Science/technology

Made-in-Vietnam Bluezone encouraged nationwide to help fight against Covid-19

SGGP

Recently, the Government has encouraged citizens to install Bluezone, an application developed by Bkav Electronic, to record contact history for reference when needed by the Covid-19 fighter team. In an interview with SGGP about useful features and information security ability of this app, General Director of Bkav Electronic Tran Viet Hai carefully explained its operation.

Citizens have installed Bluezone in their smartphones. (Photo: SGGP)

Citizens have installed Bluezone in their smartphones. (Photo: SGGP)

General Director Tran Viet Hai shared that Bluezone uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology for a smart device to detect and alert users if they have been accidentally in close contact with people who have tested positive for Covid-19 (F0).

Smartphones with Bluezone installed can recognize one another within a 2-meter range and record their contact duration.

All information related to F0 cases is continuously updated by authorized healthcare units for the Bluezone community. Therefore, this app can timely deliver a warning message about infection potential to its users, along with a list of the nearest healthcare office for help.

Explaining the mechanism to detect potential Covid-19 patients, Mr. Hai said that right after a new Covid-19 case is confirmed (F0), the Government has to track his or her detailed contact history for those who might have also been infected.

The reality sadly proves that certain patients have such a complicated contact history that it is nearly impossible for the authorities to record every contact name, and thus may lose the track of some people.

However, if that F0 has already installed Bluezone, the task becomes much easier. The app automatically records all people that this F0 gets in close contact within 2 meters for more than 15 minutes each day, as long as these people still run it in their smart devices.

For security purposes, personal information has been changed into an ID code and renewed constantly. Other Bluezone users can only see a part of this code, avoiding the possibility of copying the code.

When an F0 is detected, the whole Bluezone community will receive his or her ID code. The app in each user’s device will then scan this code in the contact history. In case of finding the exact code in that history, the user will receive a warning message that he or she has become an F1.

Discussing the advantages of Bluezone, the General Director stated that among the three popular technologies to detect close contact in the world (via a Base Transceiver Station or BTS within the range of 200 to 400 meters, via the Global Positioning System or GPS within the range of 10 to 20 meters but violating privacy rights, and via Bluetooth within a range of 2 meters), the third one is the most convenient. It can operate even when users put the device in a pocket or turn off their screen.

Besides the feature of automatic recording, the app is able to ensure privacy thanks to a constantly changing ID code sent between the two smart devices. That is why the Ministry of Information and Communications has decided to select this technology for tracking potential Covid-19 patients.

Due to the complication of this Covid-19 pandemic, the Government encourages owners of a smart device to install Bluezone as a way to protect themselves and help the community, the authorities. This is considered a money-effective method to fight against the spread of SARS-CoV-2.

Bluezone will be at its best performance when the proportion of users reaches 60 percent of the population.

The app can be installed via Google Play Store (for Android devices) and App Store (for iOS devices). In addition, users need to always turn it on. Until now, over 10 million downloads have been recorded.

By Ba Tan _ Translated by Thanh Tam

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