In Canada, Alberta launched ABTraceTogether, an app that’s in use in the province. According to the province’s website, the app creates a unique user number for each device it’s installed on and shares only that number in the event it becomes relevant in an exposure case. No other user data, such as phone numbers or names, are revealed.
A Vancouver-based company with expertise in data security says it has developed a new app that does away with the need for users to trust their private information to a central server.
“I believe the main issue is data privacy,” says Fay Arjomandi, founder and chief executive of Mimik Technology Inc., which has developed a contract tracing application called Pandimik.
“With our solution, we’re basically saying that your user information is not going to get stored in a centralized place and you can decide whether to inform a health authority when you choose to.”
She says Pandimik turns a user’s phone into a virtual server that can send notifications directly to other devices without a health authority’s intervention.
Seto, from the University of Toronto, says one weakness of using mobile phones against the COVID pandemic is that it depends on somebody first getting a positive test result and then sharing it for the general good.
Telus Corp. says it is working on a different approach that uses carefully anonymized data from its mobile phone network to monitor travel patterns of groups rather than individuals.
Pam Snively, chief data and trust officer at Telus, says the information can help predict where large numbers of people likely to travel, so policy makers can adjust their public health strategies if COVID is detected in a particular area.
“We think we can provide a tremendous amount of insight and help with better decision-making with that data alone. And we know that’s truly privacy protective,” Snively says.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 1, 2020.
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By David Paddon, The Canadian Press