A new app created by the Chinese Government allows people to check whether they have been in close contact with anyone who are confirmed or suspected to be infected with the Coronavirus.
The app is only made possible due to the heavy monitoring of citizens by the Chinese Government. When you set up the app, you need your phone number and then the app will ask for your name and ID number.
The app was jointly developed by Government departments and the China Electronics Technology Group Corporation and supported with data from health and transport authorities, according to the state-run news agency Xinhua.
It is common knowledge that the Chinese Government does conduct high levels of surveillance on its citizens, however experts in the field suggest that in this case, it will not be seen as controversial within the country. The app seems to be checking location history of your mobile phone, and checking databases of known or suspected carriers. Inside the report, it says that ‘close contact’ is flagged in three cases.
- People who work closely together, share a classroom, or live in the same home
- Medical staff, family members or other people who have been in close contact with patients and their caregivers
- Passengers and crew who have been on planes, trains and other forms of transport with an infected person
- For example, all air passengers within three rows of an infected person, as well as cabin staff, are seen as being in close contact, while other passengers would be recorded as having general contact.
- When it comes to air-conditioned trains, all passengers and crew members in the same carriage are regarded as being in close contact.
Although the surveillance needed to make an app like the Coronavirus app is alarming to say the least from a western perspective, a local lawyer says Chinese people are generally more relaxed about this provided they know about it.
From a Chinese perspective this is a really useful service for people. It’s a really powerful tool that really shows the power of data being used for good.