March 13, 2020 at 3:09 pm #5703
In China they have a phone app which tracks people in some way and you need to show the screen to get into buildings. No entry unless you’ve got a green tick from the government ‘big data’ software behind the scenes.
If we wanted we could do something far more comprehensive. The new UWB chips in things like recent iPhones can locate each other fairly accurately when they are relatively close together. https://www.wired.com/story/apple-u1-chip/ Using tech like that combined with a unique identifier for every person and a legal requirement to carry a device when you go out you could potentially accumulate a list of everyone somebody has been within say 2m of.
Combine that with a wearable device like an iWatch which has ECG and various optical sensors and you could potentially notice somebody getting sick before they had symptoms bad enough to worry about themselves. You could also monitor large numbers of people in self-isolation without sending out doctors/nurses.
If you can spot people getting sick before it progresses far enough for them to become infectious and have an immediate list of everyone they’ve been within 2m of over the last few days you could potentially shut down spread of not just coronavirus but other infectious diseases so fast they would never establish.
So, should the NHS buy everyone an iWatch and government pass a law that everyone needs to wear it until the epidemic is over, perhaps with a Chinese type system where you get denied access to public transport and buildings if you don’t scan your watch and it says you are OK. Obviously, there’s no way to have this working by next week but they seem to think coronavirus will come back next winter and it could easily be done before then.
Potentially you could get an effective quarantine without blanket bans on going out and you could possibly stop other diseases like cold and flu as well as coronavirus, but it’s pretty intrusive technology.
March 13, 2020 at 3:11 pm #5704
May be your status could be worn displayed on a badge. A nice brightly coloured star for instance. The SNP have a nice tone of yellow we could use.
March 13, 2020 at 3:12 pm #5705
That’s a simplistic response.
Right now according to Angela Merkel the expectation is about 70% of people will eventually catch coronavirus.
If you shut it down immediately by detecting people who have got it before they start spreading it and/or tracing all their contacts with near 100% effectiveness that wouldn’t happen. Hardly anyone would catch it. Possibly we could get the technology so effective that we basically stopped infectious diseases like coronavirus/flu/cold the same as a vaccine would.
Isn’t it worth it for the sake of wearing a watch for maybe six months? There’s going to be quarantines anyway, why not use tech to make them highly targeted.
March 13, 2020 at 3:13 pm #5706
will I get a smartphone too? and the money to run a contract?
it is a nice idea if the state can provide these. I don’t have a smartphone because I don’t believe in owning something I can’t afford to run
I can see the sense of this stuff as our neighbour was getting close to a heart attack last week but was admitted to A and E before it occurred thanks to a warning from a smartwatch
on the other hand the guy over the road can’t get around well because he is on a very very long wait for a hip op
March 13, 2020 at 3:16 pm #5707
That all sounds hideously complicated.
Surely, one week’s grace to panic buy provisions then the army on the streets for three weeks, with orders to shoot on sight anyone breaching universal home quarantine would be easier to organise.
I think most of us would benefit from the break.
Some of you may die but that is a sacrifice I’m willing to make.
March 13, 2020 at 3:17 pm #5708
It wouldn’t work unless the army went on the streets everywhere in the world at exactly the same time. Otherwise you’d just get reinfected from another country just like is happening now.
The smartwatch thing could stay in force for a year or longer without shutting down the whole economy, immediately suppressing any new infections before they started to spread.
March 13, 2020 at 3:17 pm #5709
Back of the envelope, 60,000,000 people in the country, maybe 10,000,000 of whom it would be pointless to give a smartwatch to so about 50,000,000 units. Apple charge £400 but government buying 50,000,000 units could not doubt get a much better deal, or design its own and just pay cost so lets say £100 / unit or about £5 billion to give everyone one.
Don’t really need a contract, it doesn’t need real time reporting, just store data on the watch and upload when it gets a WiFi signal.
NHS has a budget of about £100 billion. The watches would be good for say 5 years so its only about £1Bn/year or about 1% of its budget. Maybe it would even come out ahead if the watches pretty much eliminated coronavirus, flu, cold etc. by instantly quarantining anybody who got them before they had a chance to spread. Probably they’d also save money on some other diseases too e.g. because they work as a heart monitor and a fall alarm for OAPs too.
March 13, 2020 at 3:19 pm #5710
Naturally, I was assuming we’d automatically be shooting anyone arriving in the UK from foreign shores.
We didn’t fight for Brexit just to catch the flu.
March 13, 2020 at 3:19 pm #5711
Is this tongue in cheek?? Certainly sounds like a system that could be open to abuse as pointed out by someone above. I wish I had your faith in the authorities!
March 13, 2020 at 3:21 pm #5712
No, not tongue in cheek. It looks like a technically practical thing to do and China is already moving in that direction.
Absolutely, it is open to abuse but the potential upside of not having coronavirus, flu and possibly other diseases like the cold circulating every year is massive.
March 13, 2020 at 3:22 pm #5713
COVID19 maybe, but I would rather have my civil liberties and get a cold, thanks. If you want to live in an authoritarian country like China, go live there.
March 13, 2020 at 3:23 pm #5714
Plenty of the highest risk older people won’t have (or would want) any smart electronics to worry about. We’re still trying to educate mom in law how to send text messages from an old school non smart phone.
March 13, 2020 at 3:24 pm #5715
The technology giants are very closely integrated into the government though and, unlike crapita/accenture/Fujitsu and the other incompetents the uk use, actually good at what they do. They have specifically hobbled international competition to ensure they are the ones who get the consumer buy in.
They have been carefully building over years ensuring those giants are very closely tied into everyday life eg messaging/cashless purchases and so on which gives pretty much everyone an incentive to carry their phones. Even then though its phones not watches. The sort of checks they have is whether or not you have been near someone who is now registered as ill.
Now do you really, really want the government managing your life to that extant and being able to spy on you so effectively. Remember its the evil westminster lot.
March 13, 2020 at 3:25 pm #5716
No, I don’t want the government spying on me but:
a. To a large extent that ship has already sailed. Knowing my location isn’t personal data I’d worry that much about. They’d just see me working at home, walking in the park and taking my kids to/from school.
b. I would prefer a virtual quarantine with a watch to a blanket ‘don’t go outside for a month’ physical quarantine enforced by police/army. I’d quite like to go on a long distance walk this summer and the kind of quarantine they’ve imposed in Italy would f*ck up those plans.
c. I’ve had bad asthma a couple of times in my life so I know what not being able to breathe feels like. I’d pay quite a high price in civil liberty to turn the chance of getting corona virus from 70% to 2%. Even more if it also meant not getting the cold or flu ever again. That’s a huge benefit.
My guess is something like this is going to happen anyway but probably nobody will do it in time to sort out corona virus
March 13, 2020 at 3:26 pm #5717
My guess is that this “something like this is going to happen anyway”, is wrong. I don’t think you’ll live to see a government mandating the wearing of health monitors. And this “probably nobody will do it in time to sort out corona virus” is just stating the bleeding obvious.
March 13, 2020 at 3:28 pm #5718
My guess is that this “something like this is going to happen anyway”, is wrong. I don’t think you’ll live to see a government mandating the wearing of health monitors.
The Chinese will do it. They have already going a long way along that path with their phone app.
The Chinese approach seems to be working better than what anybody else is doing which means that others will likely copy it. Big tech in the US will lobby for it: Google (which owns FitBit) and Apple have made huge investments in wearables.
People are spending lots of money to chase a vaccine, but for viruses which mutate and you need a new vaccine every year this could be a better and less speculative approach.
And this “probably nobody will do it in time to sort out corona virus” is just stating the bleeding obvious.
I wouldn’t bet on China not being ready for Coronavirus returning next year with something like this.
I also wouldn’t bet on Apple and Google not marketing the f*ck out of wearables next year and linking up with health insurance providers and large employers to push them in the US.
March 13, 2020 at 3:31 pm #5721
My intuition is that the way people think they will react now is not the same as how they will actually react when they start seeing people they know die or get put in intensive care for a month. They just said they are asking funeral directors to make preparations to run the crematoria 24/7. In my mind that kind of death rate is 100x more scary than having my movements tracked with a smart watch. I also see the considerable upside in that the tracking and immediate quarantine would likely get rid of other diseases beyond just corona virus. So if we put up with a few years of it we could maybe be in a world without several very serious diseases.
It interests me that the Chinese government chief epidemiologist says if countries put in the sacrifice of a heavy duty suppression of the virus it could be over by June. Our own government says ‘this is unavoidable, 80% of you will be infected, but we’ll try and spread it out over time’. I kind of believe the Chinese because they suppressed SARS and they’ve now pretty much suppressed the outbreak in Wuhan.
Clearly the UK government is closer to the UKC consensus that people won’t put up with the level of suppression necessary but I think we could make the quarantine measures far less unpleasant by using tech. Its not like 80% of the population catching corona virus is going to be pleasant. Apart from the deaths there’s going to be a lot of people on ventilators for a month (assuming they can get one) and long term health issues for a fair number of cases.
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