Apple and Google last Friday they announced ότι θα συνεργαστούν για την ανάπτυξη ενός API παρακολούθησης επαφών μέσω Bluetooth για τον COVID 19. Το API θα λειτουργεί σε συσκευές iOS και Android και θα ανιχνεύει, θα αναγνωρίζει και θα παρακολουθεί άτομα που ενδέχεται να έχουν έρθει σε επαφή με μολυσμένους από τον ιό.
The API will work on devices with iOS 13 and Android 6+ (via Google Play Services) and according to the companies only health services will be able to access it.
It's a good opportunity to remember something we've probably forgotten: Technology is a tool, not a solution. New tools need a lot of testing to work properly. As far as healthcare is concerned, this is the case at least twice.
Η τεχνολογία της Apple και της Google θα αποτύχει. Πέρα από την προστασία της ιδιωτικής ζωής, που ήδη έχουν ξεκινήσει οι αντιδράσεις, υπάρχουν πάρα πολλά άλλα εμπόδια που θα πρέπει να ξεπεραστούν για να είναι αποτελεσματικό το εργαλείο detectionof contacts.
Let's make an account (check please):
1. the API will be available from mid-May.
2. θα χρειαστεί ένα συμβατό κινητό τηλέφωνο (που δεν το έχουν πολλοί λόγω ages, country, income, and many others).
3. you need to update your smartphone.
4. health authorities should release applications that use the API.
5. you need to download and install this application.
6. You need to leave your Bluetooth turned on when you are out.
7. technology should recognize without error that you have come 6 meters away from other people.
8. everyone else you come in contact with must have done all of the above.
9. if the application informs you that you may have COVID-19, you should be tested (which is not the case in all countries)
10. If you are positive, you should notify anyone who may have contacted you.
These will not be done by the majority. Especially those who are more sensitive to COVID 19. Above we talk about three major obstacles: time, adoption and technology.
There is currently nothing we can do about the fact that the API is not ready today. We're sure Apple and Google are working hard to complete it as soon as possible but will it work properly from day one?
For adoption, we can not do anything right away as those who do not want to install the application or some update will not do so because the government tells them. (For example, about 12% of Singaporeans downloaded TraceTogether, the government's Bluetooth-based government contact detection application.) Adoption can be slightly improved if companies can build an application that runs on all systems (old and new). Apple and Google plan to launch the Bluetooth contact monitoring platform directly across iOS and Android "in the coming months". That's right, they need more time.
And last but not least, the headline made you read this article. The technology has a somewhat unreliable history when all you want to do is combine two devices. Even if it was reliable, Bluetooth is not designed for remote contact detection as two (at least) devices will have to be a certain distance apart for a certain amount of time. (Apple and Google specifically use Bluetooth Low Energy, which is about 9 meters wide on a standard phone - the theoretical maximum is "less than" 100 meters.)
So no matter how smart developers Apple and Google have, even if they can get Bluetooth to do what they want, they can't solve time and adoption problems.
But let's not be pessimistic, let's assume that a small number of iOS and Android users use this contact tracking tool. Let's say it "works" for this small group of people.
Good; Well, yes and no.
The motto of technology is “move fast and break things". This can be good for creating a mobile game. But it's not good for a healthcare app that's supposed to help track the spread of a global pandemic. (For his part, the CEO of Google Sundar pichai Reported this week that technology companies should not be fooled by their role in fighting COVID 19.)
I'm not referring to false positives where the system indicates that you have been in contact with someone who has been infected but has not been infected.
I'm talking about false positives only because of Bluetooth:
You are in your apartment (or any building) and your device comes close to someone's device through a wall, above you through the ceiling or below you through the floor. Two devices could come close to cars that are side by side at a red light.
An error in an application that is supposed to warn that you may have a fatal illness is serious. False positives in a contact tracking application will have consequences. Who will lift the emotional charge if he learns that he is infected. What if you look and find that everything is fine? If your application repeatedly alerts you that you may be infected?
Tracking contacts is not a new idea. Widely used in public health: Identify people who may have come in contact with an infected person, gather information about those contacts, get tested, treat the infected, and track their contacts. Repeat to reduce infections in the population.
People are good at tracking contacts. We have no evidence that phones are either. So given all of the above, why should Apple and Google develop something like this right now?
It is simple:
The novel COVID 19 is not the first pandemic and certainly will not be the last. This will happen again and we will have to invest more in the necessary technology. (This is a good scenario, so as not to start conspiracy theories).
It may sound bad, but think of Apple and Google's contact detection for COVID 19 as a beta program. When the next virus arrives, the technology will already be there and tested. There will still be adoption issues and performance issues, however, Apple and Google will be there for our good with the Android-iOS duo
Even if Bluetooth doesn't exist anymore or we've thrown away all our smartphones because we use smart glasses, πολλοί από εμάς θα θυμόμαστε τον COVID 19 και όλες τις προσπάθειες για την εξομάλυνση της καμπύλης. Θα γνωρίζουμε τι λειτούργησε, τι όχι και τι είχε possibilities.