Estonia to Fight Coronavirus with Mobile App
Estonia has launched a mobile application HOIA designed to combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the Ministry of Social Affairs of the country said. The system will warn local residents that they need to take a disease test and self-isolate.
The principle of operation of the HOIA application is designed in such a way as to exclude the possibility of using it for other purposes: for example, as a tool for spying on the population. According to the creators of HOIA, the application will not give any government agency the ability to track any of the users.
After installing the mobile application on an iPhone or on any Android smartphone, the system will generate a unique anonymous device identifier, which will then be broadcast via Bluetooth to other smartphones nearby with a similar application. Each device with HOIA records the history of close contacts in the smartphone’s memory – a list of anonymous identifiers of other devices.
If a user falls ill, he will be able to report the infection by clicking on the corresponding button. Then, he will be asked to confirm his diagnosis through the state health information system of Estonia. If doctors confirm the diagnosis, HOIA will send the device identifier of the infected owner to a special server: other smartphones periodically download the current list of such “dangerous” identifiers and check it against the list of close contacts of their owner. When the application detects a close contact with an infected user, it will notify the owner: it will offer to take a virus test and self-isolate for 14 days.
The Estonian Health Department already notifies the close contacts of those infected with the coronavirus by phone, but it is far from always that the sick can remember with whom and when they communicated closely in recent days. It is assumed that the HOIA service will solve this problem and help in the fight against the epidemic.