Three tech whizzes develop Covid-19 contact tracing App

Friday, April 17th, 2020 00:00 |
One of the App developers Eric Mungai demonstrates how Linda App works in the fight against Covid-19. Photo/PD/John Ochieng

George Kebaso @Morarak

It will now be easy to locate people infected by the novel coronavirus disease thanks to an innovative mobile phone App. 

Officially launched on Sunday, the Linda App, whose name is derived from the Swahili word ‘protect’, aims to make contact tracing easier.

Online content developers, drawn from three local technology firms, saw a need to develop the mobile App to help in the fight against Covid-19 as positive cases continue to rise daily.

Bob Ndubi, the founder of Silverhouse Capital Ltd, partners Eric Mungai of E&M Investments Ltd and Vincent Muiruri who founded Segue Interactive Ltd, have already applied for Google rights to add more features to the App.

“We are keen to offer technology solutions that are highly needed during this period as the whole world battles this strange disease. We want to be part of the solution,” said Ndubi.

Through the Linda Initiative, Ndubi said, Kenyans will now be able to know when they are close to a person who has tested positive. The App will be linked to bluetooth technology for Covid-19 signals.

Bluetooth signal

“The bluetooth signal will vibrate when a person comes into close contact with a person who has tested positive for the virus.

All the user needs is to put the bluetooth on and anyone who has tested positive and has been released will be identifiable through their phone numbers,” he said.

Ndubi says once a person downloads the application on their mobile phones, they are required to have their bluetooth on to receive a vibration cautioning them to maintain social distance.

Through the technology, Mungai said, health officials will also be able to easily trace people who come into contact with a suspected case of coronavirus.

However, as it is the norm in the medical field, case confidentiality has been taken into consideration.

The App, he said, has been developed to comply with the privacy requirements of persons suffering from the disease.

“The names will not be made public. The numbers will be captured in a way that we have colour coding on this App, with the sole purpose of cautioning people to maintain social distance,” said Mungai.

Mungai said the App will be used majorly to remind Kenyans to maintain social distance  using bluetooth technology.

“This App ia a reminder for Kenyans to stay at home and self enforce social distance,” Mungai said on Sunday. 

“It’s a technology that warns users on possibility of an existing case that has tested positive of Covid-19 within 100 metres radius without giving out the identity of the individuals or their existing location,” he says.

Kenya has so far recorded 234 positive cases of Covid-19 and 11 deaths have been registered so far.

Linda App will also use colour codes to determine hotspot areas at any given time and provide analysis of government data for stakeholders.

“With this App, Kenyans are assured of getting accurate information on Covid-19 and will be assisted to carry out self-assessment tests.

The beauty with this App is that it also facilitates a platform where those in mandatory quarantine can report by themselves by giving accurate reports on social distancing,” he said.

Health alerts

In one section of the App, users are advised to be keen for an alert from a doctor or officials from the Ministry of Health.

If the user presents coronavirus symptoms, then a doctor or a Ministry of Health officials will get in touch for a detailed query,” he said.

The App according to Mungai also links rescue teams to suspected cases.

For the App to be onloaded by Google, he said, they are working on the standard guidelines especially those touching privacy.

“We want to make sure the data is anonymous, but it will be used to alert the next user that in their area, that is,  a hundred metres from where they are positiones, there are suspected cases that have not yet been tested,” he pointed out.

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