Having started in China, Covid-19 continues to expand in Asia and around the world. So much so that some countries are using advanced techniques to identify, monitor, and track potential sick people.
China understands this. In partnership with the government, China’s tech giants have developed new applications for their existing technologies to stem the spread of the virus.
In the land of the QR code
The Chinese can check for themselves the risk of contamination outside public places of transit and, therefore, of contagion via a QR code. Integrated into Alipay, the dematerialized payment system of the giant Alibaba, users can monitor their health status.
To do so, they fill in a questionnaire on the Web; then, a color-coded QR code appears: if it is red, the containment must last 14 days, if it is orange, only one week, and finally if it is green, saved (for the moment).
China, a laboratory for open-air experiments
In Beijing, a system developed by Baidu checks passengers at Qinghe Station using facial recognition and infrared sensors, automatically photographing each face. If a body’s temperature exceeds 37.3 degrees, a loud alarm goes off, triggering “manual” check.
Its intelligent system can monitor more than 200 people per minute. That’s a significant increase in frequency compared to regular checkpoints.
Interactive maps in South Korea
This time, the “Close contact detector” application, created by China Electronics technology group corporations under the guidance of the State Council and the National Health Commission, works on the same principle. A web-based questionnaire must be completed to determine whether the user has been in situations of risk, and then a color code identifies the steps to be taken. A period of confinement is prescribed for the user.
Its neighbor South Korea, the country with the second-highest number of reported cases in the world, has also made use of new technologies. This time, however, the initiatives have come from independent developers.
A young 19-year-old Korean has developed an interactive map called “Coronamap.live” that allows users to follow potentially sick people on the Web. Similarly, the moving points on the map are colored according to the risk of contamination.
The use of technology, a reflection of the power in place?
Beyond the practical aspect of these tools, the use of new technologies differs according to the power in place. In Moscow, as in Beijing, in the case of major epidemics, the big means. If cameras equipped with intelligent systems recognize a person who is supposed to stay at home, the police intervene. Whereas in South Korea, the initiatives respond to the logic of the bottom-up. Citizens for citizens. However, nowhere in the world has technology yet made it possible to cure the virus rather than track down the sick.