Blockchain Contact Tracing App To Fight With The Coronavirus Outbreak

Blockchain contact tracing app is going to help the world fight with the coronavirus outbreak, here we are going to explain how. The world is getting accustomed to the kind of life they are living with the coronavirus outbreak, but developments are needed to fight with it as well. One of the developments has been in the Blockchain industry with the contact tracing application. This new form of digital contact tracing uses unbreakable encryption for securing the personal information of users. It could help them win the level of public engagement that is required to fight against the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.

According to the new paper published in the IEEE Internet of Things Journal, on the unique properties of blockchain technology engineers outlined how a trustworthy contact tracing system can be built. With the tracking and tracing tools, it becomes quite easy to catch the virus that might be affecting your system. The traditional tracking and tracing methods involved contact with all the infected people of the healthcare staff. While they are effective but are time-intensive and do rely on the ability of the patient to remember everyone correctly who they have recently interacted with. An application that is capable of mapping how the infected beings have interacted with others can help in making the process fast and much more accurate.

TraceTogether: Mobile Phone-based Contact Tracing System 

TraceTogether, the mobile phone-based contact tracing system, has helped the government of Singapore in containing the coronavirus outbreak. It gets tapped into the Bluetooth tech of mobile users for mapping the interactions of people with a symptom of a disease, had with others. For preventing further spread of the virus, the data was shared with contact tracers who encouraged those who had contact with the individual with symptoms of a disease to self-isolate. 

The biggest tech companies like Apple and Google and also the governments of a few of the countries have developed systems that are similar to it for helping them contain the virus. There have been concerns expressed by digital privacy advocates about how the personal data of users would effectively be shielded from theft, hacks, or misuse.

BeepTrace: The Blockchain Technology Mobile-Based Application

The new mobile-based system, BeepTrace, has been proposing by the researchers of The University of Glasgow. This system possesses the properties of blockchain technology that are unique and are capable of creating a potentially international system that is decentralized for helping them break the virus transmission chains. 

It facilitates secure transactions of finance between users without involving central banks. The other sectors where there is the use of this blockchain technology are:

  • Healthcare
  • Supply chain management and information
  • Communications Technology
  • More of the sectors are opting 

How The Blockchain Application Works

On the University of Glasgow campus, a small group of volunteers is testing the mobile application BeepTrace. It is being tested on a smaller scale, before opening it to a wider test later in the year. This ensures the privacy of users by the way the blockchain data is handled. 

There is the assignment of randomly-generated anonymous ID to the users that keeps changing on a regular basis for the prevention of identification or tracking. Using the IDs that are stored on the application over the last 2 weeks, the provider of healthcare takes note of the infection on the blockchain if there is a test positive for COVID-19. The BeeTrace user will get a notification on getting in contact with them during that time. 

There is very little risk of misinformation as the details of infection can only be updated to the blockchain by the healthcare professionals or applications that have been verified by them. So, maliciously or mistakenly the misinformation of marking users with tested positive options is not possible. 

Now, let us look at the two modes of operation in the application:

  • Active: 

The active mode utilizes the Bluetooth tech in the smartphones of the users. The discussion about this mode has been in a second article set for publication shortly in the IEEE Internet of Things magazine, a second journal. As two phones with the BeepTrace application installed come in contact physically with each other, then the application takes a note on both of the phones of the users about the date and time and the location of interaction.

  • Passive: 

The passive mode utilizes the global positioning system (GPS) of the smartphones for tracking the movements of users and then uploading the data encrypted to the blockchain. Its operation is discussed in the article of the IEEE Internet of Things Journal. 

For securing the privacy of users, a special mechanism is designed. Whenever a new infection gets added to the blockchain, a central server calculation happens with the GPS data of the users who were in close contact. The application will send a push notification as soon as the information on the phone of the user highlights a match with someone who is infected.

The application keeps on checking the locally stored information on a regular basis. The checks are mainly about the contacts against the information in the blockchain. As soon as the news of infection gets added to the blockchain, a warning notification is pushed to all the users who have been in contact with the infected person recently, but the identity is not disclosed to the public.

Wrapping Up

The application has already received a lot of attention from the governments, private companies, and researchers around the globe. The large-scale trial that is going on in the campus of the University of Glasgow, if it gets success later this year then the team is hoping to complete and release the final version of the application by the end of the year. 

‘BeepTrace: Blockchain-enabled Privacy-preserving Contact Tracing for COVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond’, the paper of the team, is available at The paper of the team on BeepTrace Active that has been titled ‘Privacy-Preserving Contact Tracing and Public Risk Assessment using Blockchain for COVID-19 Pandemic’ will be published in the next edition of the magazine of the IEEE Internet of Things.

Guest article written by: Vishwa Deepak. As a content strategist and writer associated with Sagenext, I do more than just stringing letters together into words. My core competency lies in producing useful and amazing content related to technology trends, business, cloud computing, Quickbooks hosting, and finance.

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