Germany has joined a growing list of other countries (Italy, Poland, and Latvia) encouraging travelers to download and utilize a mobile app that uses Bluetooth short-range radio to measure close contacts between people and issues a warning should one of them later test positive for COVID-19.
This Corona-Warn-App “isn’t a cure-all. It’s not a free pass. But it’s an important additional tool for containing the pandemic,” according to Health Minister Jens Spahn. European Union members also recently agreed to implement technical standards for national apps to ‘talk’ to each other – a step towards making it possible to trace infections across borders.
So why is this an important signal to follow:
This is great news for industries that rely on travel and for people looking to get back to their pre-pandemic lives including summer vacations. However, there are still many obstacles.
According to the article, Germany launches coronavirus app as EU eyes travel revival – “The German app nearly went off the rails in April as Berlin abandoned an initial approach that would have stored data on a central server – which privacy experts said could allow people’s relationships to be spied on”. Also “public enthusiasm for the app has been mixed – last week’s Politbarometer opinion poll for ZDF found that 42% of people would download it and 46% would not, while 8% didn’t have a new enough smartphone.”
With privacy challenges and public distrust, it is fair to say this is another way the technology is ready to help and be implemented, but will it be impeded by privacy and trust concerns.
Organizations considering in investing in these apps may find that they work well, but may not have the adoption to make them effective or even valuable. Or worse, may get stuck in regulation, compliance, and approval limbo for so long that the process may outlive the necessity.
For more impacts of Covid-19 research, check out “Top 10 Plausible Directions Resulting from COVID-19“