A team of researchers, coordinated by the Institute of Systems and Computers Engineering, Technology and Science (INESC TEC), with the support of the Public Health Institute of the University of Porto (ISPUP), developed a mobile application for fast and anonymous screening of networks contagion by COVID-19 in Portugal.
According to a note sent to the press, the STAYAWAY app detects the physical proximity between smartphones and informs users that they have been in the same space as someone infected in the last 14 days with the new coronavirus.
“This is a platform for voluntary use that informs users of an occasion of proximity, which occurred in the last 14 days, with someone confirmed as infected. It is a method that can extend and accelerate, preserving the anonymity of those involved, identifying the transmission chains that health authorities have been carrying out since the beginning of the pandemic ”, says José Manuel Mendonça, President of the Board of Directors of INESC TEC and professor at Faculty of Engineering, University of Porto (FEUP).
It is estimated that the application can be made available later this month, for Android and iOS. The user only has to install it, and it is not necessary, for this purpose, to share any type of personal information.
Each cell phone broadcasts anonymous identifiers in its vicinity and stores the identifiers spread by the cell phones with which it crosses locally. Although it is absolutely devoid of a relationship with the mobile phones that generated it and, consequently, with the users of those mobile phones, this information will allow it to detect its proximity to an infected person.
A person confirmed as infected with COVID-19 will be able to publish their anonymous identifiers online that they have shared in the last 14 days, with the authorization of health authorities. With this public information, the application of each person can easily assess, voluntarily and non-intrusively, autonomously if in the previous days he was close to the infected person.
The application complies with European and national data protection laws.
The app is being developed by INESC TEC and ISPUP, in collaboration with the Associated Laboratories IT, INESC ID and LarSys and has the support of the Minho Advanced Computing Center (MACC), the National Cybersecurity Center (CNCS), the Press National Casa da Moeda (INCM) and the National initiative on Digital Skills e.2030 (Portugal INCoDe.2030).