Concept Note: Coronavirus tracking app

Google Location is one of the most widely used service in the world and most of the smartphones have this service on by default for it is also being used by various other utility applications worldwide. We also know that google maintains the history unless a user specifically requests to delete that history. Google also knows your peer-group and the people you interact with in regular basis, for example if you happened to take an Ola cab, Google location logs will show you and the driver used the Google location service and the same time and you two journeyed together. If you happened to be in a public place meeting someone, there is a high probability google location service coupled with your contact history and call logs can establish who you were meeting.

Having established above let’s talk about some useful facts about coronavirus and its spread. 1. It’s a highly contagious virus, so it will be safe to assume everyone a carrier has come is contact with is at risk. 2. The symptoms can show themselves anywhere between 2-14 days from the day of infection, meaning in a carrier starts showing symptoms today it is possible that he/she has been a career from past 14 days. 3. Testing and health services are limited and in extreme short supply hence it is important to know where to focus the efforts. and 4. Tracing the carriers and quarantining them as fast as possible (before they even know it) is the key because any delay in doing so may mean anywhere between 1-25 additional carriers everyday assuming mild social distancing is being practiced and mobility is restricted because of lockdown.

Armed with above informed I propose following service to be designed, which may end up helping in saving the humanity in big way. (We can resume our privacy debates once humanity is safe and sound).

  • Create and additional service as part of Google location service where user or any other person having access to user’s phone marks the person carrier as soon as he/she is tested positive.
  • The moment this information hits the server, google maps will trace the footsteps of this user for last 14 days
  • Google servers will identify all other users in its systems that have been in the same location at the same time
  • Google will send a notification to all these users with the details of the nearest testing center requesting them to get them tested and observe extreme self quarantine till they are tested and confirmed negative
  • A copy of this notification will be sent to the nearest testing center, so that testing centers do not send away this person because he/she does not fit the criteria given to them (make this notification as one of the criteria for testing)
  • Google will also know if and when the person has visited the testing center and mark the user as sample given, when he/she visits the testing center and submits his/her sample
  • Google will also know if such person is breaking quarantine and will warn the person against doing so and will also alert nearby designated authority if such marked person decides to move away from his/her quarantine location along with a tracking
  • This tracking will help authorities apprehend the person as soon as possible
  • Users identified as such will not be allowed to turn off their location service till they are marked negative by the authorities
  • (We can even have an option to alert people co-living so that they also can take precautions and also help the person get through this situation)

Disclaimer: I do not have detailed knowledge of Google’s systems and internal functionality. This is a proposal created based on my knowledge of their services as a user. I am sure their capable engineers will be able to do a much better job when they get to designing something like this.

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