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COVID-19 patients tracking smartphone app enters testing in Moscow

After installation, the app will request permissions for geolocation, SMS notifications and phone camera access

MOSCOW, April 1. /TASS/. A smartphone app for tracking of patients with confirmed coronavirus infection, who stay in voluntary home isolation and who took obligation to comply with the quarantine, is under development and testing in Moscow, Moscow Informational Technologies Department head Eduard Lysenko said, adding that the app will not be used for all Moscow citizens.

According to Lysenko, app users have to sign an agreement on information sharing and then they receive either a hardware with app installed or a private download URL.

"We develop and conduct internal testing of the Social Monitoring smartphone app, which is required to monitor isolation compliance of people with officially confirmed coronavirus infection and who receive treatment at home. This would allow us to ensure the safety of the people and prevent further spread of the coronavirus," Lysenko said.

The official said that people with light form of the infection are allowed to receive treatment at home. In this case, people sign an agreement, in which they vow to use the telemedicine information system to receive consultations from a doctor. In future, the patients will also vow to install and use the Social Monitoring app.

"The agreement says that the application must have access to the Internet and cell networks which allow phone tracking in Moscow. Besides, the patient agrees to have their photo taken and be identified by their ID document, as well as to transmission of this data to the Joint data storage and processing center. This is necessary so that the law enforcement could control compliance with the isolation regime," the official said.

After installation, the app will request permissions for geolocation, SMS notifications and phone camera access. The user will have to input their phone number and verification code. The app does not need a QR code for access, but the user will have to make their photo to continue using it.

About the developer

Lysenko disclosed that the app is being developed by "Infogorod" public institution, using solutions, developed by Gaskar company. This is a company registered in Russia and which has Russian founders.

Gaskar is a state contractor in a Moscow construction automatization and is not involved in the tracking smartphone app, Lysenko explained, adding that the app uses Identix One algorithms.

"This software is deployed on-premise on Russian servers, the [personal] data does not leave country," he underscored.

According to Lysenko, data from the users goes to the Informational Technologies Department. A server that Telegram channels talk about is only a test server and does not store personal data. It was used to test the app and to polish its performance.

"The system will track user’s location automatically, but it will monitor not a person’s movement track, but the fact of abandonment of self-isolation location, which the user stated in their profile. To make sure that the user stays close to their phone, the app will send push notifications from time to time, requesting face ID: to do that, a user will have to make their photo in online mode," Lysenko said.

The Department head underscored that the app is being developed specifically for quarantined patients who agree to its use. Downloading of this app by other categories of the people is not permitted, he said, adding that the authorization dialogue was made as simple as possible in a bid to make it easier for people in difficult situation.

"[The patients] sign an informed agreement. Only these people receive hardware (a smartphone, a smart watch) or a download URL," Lysenko concluded.

Coronavirus situation

By April 1, Russia reported 2,777 coronavirus infection cases, 190 recoveries and 24 fatalities.

On March 29, Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin extended the self-isolation regime in the city. People are only allowed to leave their homes to receive emergency medical assistance, to travel to work, to buy food in the nearest shop, to walk their dog not farther than 100 meters away from their home and to dispose of household trash. Most Russian regions introduced similar measures.

In the upcoming days, Moscow citizens will only be allowed to leave their homes if they have special permit, issued by the Moscow government. In the meantime, this regime will not prohibit people from leaving or entering the city.