In an attempt to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the South Korean government has developed an application that monitors quarantine compliance. It is available in Android and from March 20th it will also be available for download for iPhone mobiles.
Given that the mobile phone is a device that we always carry with us, and that it remains connected and located, it is not strange that it is the focus of governments and authorities in controlling their population. In China, it was implemented to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus: the color-coded QR code system has proven to be both restrictive and effective. And there is already a second government with control application: that of South Korea. However, the app is voluntary, at least for the time being.
Monitor the location and alert authorities
Despite the fact that the application developed by the Ministry of Public Administration and Security is voluntary, this app seamlessly monitors compliance with quarantine orders. In principle, there is no obligation for those infected with coronavirus, or people who have been in contact with them, to install it, but the authorities do recommend downloading. Given the power of control that the smartphone possesses, as demonstrated daily in China, it is logical that governments decide to use it with the common good as their motivation. This is despite the fact that the measures may seem authoritarian and controlling, not to mention the serious privacy concerns it raises.
As you can read on the official website of the Korean Ministry of the Interior and Security, the authorities have developed a ‘.Self-isolating safety application‘. This app seeks to ensure that those who may be infected comply with the mandatory quarantine so that they can avoid infecting other people. Based on the location of the smartphone, the application alerts the authorities in case the owner of the phone decides to break the quarantine by leaving his house (it uses GPS). In addition, the patient can report their health status at any time thanks to the questionnaires included in the software; which evaluate patients remotely and from their mobile phone.
The Korean application monitors compliance with the quarantine order, which is mandatory for all persons at risk of transmitting the coronavirus
Although the application of quarantine is not mandatory, the fact of keeping that quarantine is: the South Korean Government forces those who receive the order from their medical centre not to leave their area of confinement. The Korean health authorities make daily phone calls to ensure compliance with quarantine measures, so the quarantine application aims to complement telephone monitoring with proactive self-monitoring from the smartphone.
The Android app is now available for download from Korean app stores; with the iPhone app about to come out as well. This application is an example of how effective a smartphone can be in fighting infectious diseases such as the Covid-19 coronavirus. However, it also highlights the enormous capacity for control that our governments could have.
Track | MIT Technology Review