New virus app a powerful tool

New virus app a powerful tool

Users can assess infection risk and help health authorities with tracking to prevent spread

The Mor Chana mobile app promises its users anonymity in exchange for their cooperation in answering health assessment questions. (Photo by Apichart Jinakul)
The Mor Chana mobile app promises its users anonymity in exchange for their cooperation in answering health assessment questions. (Photo by Apichart Jinakul)

A new mobile app, Mor Chana, has been launched as a powerful tool to help people assess their coronavirus infection risk, assist health authorities in tracking users in close contact with infected people and prevent transmission among healthcare workers.

The app is the result of collaboration between state organisations and private developers. Data drawn from the app will be analysed by artificial intelligence (AI) systems to assist with continuing epidemiological studies by the Department of Disease Control (DDC).

“It took two weeks to develop the app with collaboration from volunteers, citizens and the private and public sectors, all of whom wish to support physicians and medical teams who serve as the front-line warriors in the fight against Covid-19,” said Anuchit Anuchitanukul, a representative of the development team.

The software developer group Code for Public and a group of software and data analysis specialists known as Chuay Kan Group helped build the app. They were supported by educational institutions, hospitals, public health authorities and other public and private organisations.

The app can be downloaded at https://morchana.app.link/download, as well as from the Google Play Store for Android devices and the iOS App Store.

Mor Chana can help identify individuals who have been exposed to virus patients by using GPS and Bluetooth technology to track their location.

Health authorities who use the app will be able to identify those who have been in close contact with infected people. This could also help prevent medical practitioners from contracting the disease.

“General app users who are not medical professionals can use the app to locate the risk areas and adjust their travel plans accordingly,” Mr Anuchit said.

Registration is done anonymously. Registrants can use only their mobile phone number for the process.

After answering health assessment questions they will receive risk level results shown in four colours: green (lowest risk), yellow (low risk), orange (risky) and red (high risk).

Risk level assessment can reduce the number of health professionals who contract the virus, particularly from patients who did not tell the truth about where they had been and who they had been in contact with, Mr Anuchit said.

He said Mor Chana has layers of privacy safeguards. All data collected is stored and displayed in an anonymous form. Users will be asked to share these records only when contacted by the authorities as part of contact tracing investigations.

Data from the app will be processed by the DDC iLAB analytic platform, which combines epidemiology analysis and AI to identify users who may be in proximity to infected people, said Sutthipong Phanthanalai, who developed DDC iLAB.

Digital Economy and Society Minister Buddhipongse Punnakanta said the app strictly complies with privacy and data protection laws.

An independent committee will be set up to monitor the data management process and ensure that procedures comply with conditions stipulated in the Personal Data Protection Act.

All logs will be deleted immediately after the crisis ends, Mr Buddhipongse said.

“This contact tracing approach will play a significant role in containing the spread of Covid-19,” he said. “It needs citizens to contribute to society by downloading it to help stop the viral spread and mitigate wider social and economic impacts.”


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