Photo - Corona360
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Corona360

An App for Avoiding Covid-19 while Preserving Privacy

France
Market: Medicine, Mobile applications
Stage of the project: Prototype or product is ready

Date of last change: 21.04.2020
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Idea

The application allows users to report their status of Covid-19 infection and view the distribution of other people who report their status. With this application, we can learn about the circulation areas of infected people and fight against the virus by cutting the chain of its spread.

Current Status

The Android version of Corona360 is available on Google Play Store since April 20th. It can also be downloaded fr om its website: https://corona-360.com. The current version is translated by volunteers into English, French, German, Polish, Turkish and Persian. The iOS POC version is will be submitted to App Store during the week of April 20th.
A proof of concept (POC) of the application was launched end of March when Iran was at its peak of pandemic and the most infected country in the world. The app was then quickly endorsed by the Iranian Society of Emergency Medicine, the Iranian Order of Medicine and the Savelife Institute for Medical Education. Thanks to these endorsements, the uptake of the POC was quite good even in the absence of the availability of the App on Google Play Store. In some cities the number of users became high enough to allow a first perception of areas wh ere infected people are present

Market

The Coronavirus pandemic is an ongoing pandemic of Covid-19 infection declared by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a public health emergency of international concern. As of today the virus has infected more than 2,5 million people from 185 countries and territories, and caused more than 170,000 deaths (1). Recent reports suggest the possibility of re-infection of the same person by the virus, implying that there the natural immunity acquired after the infection is not long lasting (2). This jeopardizes the perspectives of a successful vaccine in near future. Social distancing and personal isolation are among the most effective preventive measures.

Problem or Opportunity

One of the most important preventive measures against Covid-19 is to help people keep their safety distance from infected individuals. Some countries such as South Korea and Singapore installed a mobile application on the phones of Covid-19-infected people and made their location publicly available. Although this method proved to be effective in preventing the contamination, its implementation in many democracies is challenging, as it jeopardizes the privacy of citizens.

Solution (product or service)

The aim of Corona360 is a to propose a simple but appealing mobile application to help people identify and avoid areas where Covid-19 infected people are present, while preserving everyone’s privacy. Its users shall be able to check whether there is a Covid-19 infected person in their workplace, residential complexity or the shopping mall nearby, without knowing who that person is. This will allow them to take precautionary measures to avoid being contaminated.

To preserve user’s privacy, Corona360 does not require any id, name, surname, email, phone number, or other user accounts. The IP address of the user is not registered and is replaced by a random number in the server. User’s location is not tracked. Rather, it is updated every time the user opens the map. The dots on the map correspond to circles of about 50 meters (164 feet) of diameter on the ground, to ensure an individual cannot be identified from others. The dots disappear above a certain level of zooming in to avoid identification of individuals.

Competitors

A few applications are available with similar function, but most of them such as Corona 100m (used in South Korea) or Mask (used in Iran) are local and connected to the government. They collect a variety of personal data such as identity information, social security numbers, phone numbers, and sometimes even track patients permanently. As such, they are closer to personal surveillance apps rather than crowd sourcing solutions, and their voluntary and widespread uptake is unlikely. In some countries human rights groups are already alerting about government’s abuse of such applications.

Some other countries such as Singapore use Bluetooth technology rather than global positioning system. Google and Apple also join forces to build a component which relies on Bluetooth technology . This technology sends users alerts once they are in close contact with a person who is known to be Covid-19 positive. The component is expected to become freely available for app developers and we may integrate it into Corona360 as a complementary protection. However, we have some questions and concerns about its privacy. For example, in a park if two people are sitting on a bench, if one of them receives the alert, for sure the other one is the infected person.

Advantages or differentiators

Corona360 is designed by epidemiologists and specialists in emergency medicine to help with social distancing. Deliberate choice is made to prevail privacy over feature-rich character of the app. The amount of data collected by users is kept to the minimum and based on voluntary participation.

Corona360 provides information which is complementary to the statistics generated by the healthcare systems as it is independent and has much higher geographical granularity. To avoid any misuse, a disclaimer is shown in the app on the bottom of the map to remind that the numbers do not replace official statistics.

Corona360 is especially helpful at the time of progressive deconfinement where people begin coming out of their homes for work and social activities.

Business model

This app has been developed by our personal investment as a small contribution in the fight against the virus. It does not have any economic model and is not set to generate any revenue.

If the uptake of the software is good, in future, we can consider expanding its use for other disease such as seasonal diarrea, flu which are spread from person to person.

Money will be spent on

In order to be effective, Corona360 needs to be used by thousands of people. This will need promotion, scaling up of the server and further development, for example the integration of Google/Apple Bluetooth component. We also need to translate the application to other language and involve a legal firm to review and make sure the app is compliant with all legal requirements. This includes the translation of our privacy policy and terms of service into other languages.

Our current resources are not enough to cover these after-launch activities, which are estimated to be about USD 250,000.

Offer for investor

We will be happy to add investors names and brands both in the application and its web page. We are also are open to give up equity, but the valuation of the app is not yet determined.

Team or Management

Risks

It can be argued that the status of infection by Covid-19 is declarative and thus less reliable. We plan to include cross checks in future versions, for example by asking for confirmation in case of discrepancy in the sequence of symptomatic/diagnosed status versus recovered. Furthermore, the high volume of users can increase reliability in the same way as Wikipedia is reliable.

Like any other crowd sourcing solution, the reliability and usefulness of Corona360 depend on the extent of its use. The endorsements by scientific and governmental organizations as well as promotion and communication will help making it a success in the battle against the virus.

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Photo 1 - An App for Avoiding Covid-19 while Preserving Privacy
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