Govt, Firms Debate Data Storage Approach For Contact Tracing

With the fight against the virus pandemic is still on-going, the public and private sectors are turning to contact tracing as a way of addressing the issue. All About Circuits reported that several governments are looking into data storage centralization while companies such as Apple and Google are proposing the use of a decentralized “opt-in” system.

Contract tracing is defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as “a core disease control measure employed by local and state health department personnel for decades.” It is used as a “key strategy for preventing further spread” of the pandemic.

It primarily consists of health staff working with a patient to recall individuals they were in contact with. When the patient tests positive, they can get in touch with the health facility, which will inform people who were in contact with the patient to take the necessary steps.

Data Storage Approach For Contact Tracing

While the concept of contact tracing is clearly outlined with the help of the CDC, governments are still figuring out the best approach to storing data gathered from patients.

Some public agencies are proposing the use of a centralized system, which will store patients’ data and movement records in a government-owned server. These states will also release their own contact tracing apps.

This architecture will use a Bluetooth-based tech to trace the activity of patients. However, individuals may be required to purchase a new device for this sole purpose.

A centralized approach entails that the patient’s device will automatically send data to the government’s health agency. The United Kingdom supports this approach and is currently working on its own app which is set to be released in 2 to 3 weeks, said CNBC.

However, private firms such as Apple and Google suggest the use of a decentralized system, which will let individuals choose whether they want to participate in contact tracing activities. Patients can “opt-in” to the program by letting their device send pertinent data to health authorities.

Many states are favoring this proposal including Germany, Austria and Switzerland. According to Tech Crunch, Germany will be implementing a decentralized system, while the European Commission recommends this approach, as well.

Meanwhile, some reports said that governments may be choosing to pursue a more decentralized infrastructure developed by Google and Apple, which will be based on open-source protocols created by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University and the University of Waterloo.