Mobile applications have become little but important helpers to some of the governments fighting the coronavirus pandemic. Their functionality ranges from simple adviсe and the provision of actual information about the disease and the ways to stop it, to tracking people's movement to better trace the connections of each person testing positive for COVID-19 in order to isolate them in a timely manner.
Governments, however, could achieve much more with these apps were they to embrace the power of AI technologies, Eline Chivot, EU tech policy analyst at the Centre for Data Innovation believes.
"AI could help model and predict the spread of disease, and help doctors monitor patients remotely, triage new patients, optimize the delivery of key medical supplies, and interact through chatbots with infected or potentially infected individuals at hospitals, retail stores, and other locations", the analyst opines.
Unfortunately, no government actually utilised such an opportunity to at least improve physical distancing, Chivot laments. She suggests that the EU could establish a task force comprised of representatives of business and academic societies, as well as government, to study an opportunity to create "contract tracing applications" based on AI technologies.
The effectiveness of such applications will depend not only on the technologies used but also on a number of other factors, such as their endorsement by authorities, interoperability with other systems and public trust, Chivot stresses. Public trust is crucial to ensure the mass adoption of a new mechanism, which otherwise would be ineffective, the analyst adds.
"Safeguards often noted to prevent abuse or misuse of data include pseudonymisation, aggregation, encryption and decentralization, but also time/purpose limitation. But concerns about re-identification and the limits of anonymization should be addressed and clarified", she concludes.
The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.