COVID-19 Contact Tracing: Challenges and Future Directions.

Chowdhury, Mohammad Jabed Morshed; Ferdous, Md Sadek; Biswas, Kamanashis; Chowdhury, Niaz and Muthukkumarasamy, Vallipuram (2020). COVID-19 Contact Tracing: Challenges and Future Directions. IEEE access : practical innovations, open solutions, 8 pp. 225703–225729.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1109/access.2020.3036718

Abstract

Contact tracing has become a vital tool for public health officials to effectively combat the spread of new diseases, such as the novel coronavirus disease COVID-19. Contact tracing is not new to epidemiologist rather, it used manual or semi-manual approaches that are incredibly time-consuming, costly and inefficient. It mostly relies on human memory while scalability is a significant challenge in tackling pandemics. The unprecedented health and socio-economic impacts led researchers and practitioners around the world to search for technology-based approaches for providing scalable and timely answers. Smartphones and associated digital technologies have the potential to provide a better approach due to their high level of penetration, coupled with mobility. While data-driven solutions are extremely powerful, the fear among citizens is that information like location or proximity associated with other personal data can be weaponised by the states to enforce surveillance. Low adoption rate of such apps due to the lack of trust questioned the efficacy and demanded researchers to find innovative solution for building digital-trust, and appropriately balancing privacy and accuracy of data. In this paper, we have critically reviewed such protocols and apps to identify the strength and weakness of each approach. Finally, we have penned down our recommendations to make the future contact tracing mechanisms more universally inter-operable and privacy-preserving.

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