Pandemic Tech: Anonymous App Corona Radar Hopes to Protect Users Against Covid-19

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Corona Radar by German-Swiss entrepreneur Bert Neckermann is a new app to help people protect themselves from infection with Covid-19. The app shows – in real-time – nearby persons and their risk status on a kind of radar screen. It is GPS-based, covering a radius of 3 to about 200 meters. The app works 100% anonymously, is available worldwide and free of charge – payment to support the app is only on a voluntary basis

Profile photo of Bert Neckermann
German-Swiss entrepreneur Bert Neckermann

Conceived in April 2020, Corona Radar is being published by Necdigit One GmbH / Switzerland. The app is meant to help avoid risky contacts and thus slow the spread of Covid-19.

Neckermann’s experience includes Founder & CEO of Nekon AS which develops a personal emergency services company,

Corona Radar users enter their subjective, individually perceived, risk status as low, medium or high risk. Color-coded dots show distance and movement relative to other app users. Sources of risk can thus be recognized early and avoided.

The use of the app is completely anonymous. There is no registration, no login, no entry of email address or phone number.  The app collects no personal data whatsoever; every user device is connected to the server only by a randomly generated code that does not allow any conclusions regarding the identity of the user. When a person with increased risk approaches, the user receives an optic and acoustic signal. An optional “personal tracing” function with push notification is in development.  This, too, will be completely anonymous.

The launch was originally planned for early June 2020. The reluctance of the app stores prompted the development of Corona as a Progressive Web App. The PWA works on any mobile browser. App and website are available as a beta version in English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Russian and Turkish at the start. The PWA will continue to be developed based on user experience and feedback.

Neckermann said, “Covid-19 is a common problem of all people, and we can only fight it jointly. Our app can help people to take their freedom into their own hands and protect themselves from the virus proactively, individually and 100% anonymously. If lots of people use Corona Radar, the app can become a very effective means for better social distancing and less fear in the world, without users having to fear onerous obligations or being spied upon.”

Like many of these apps – the challenge will be having great enough adoption to work. In theory, this is a fantastic solution to the problem of figuring out how to minimize the risk of infection.

Then there is the WHO and CDC who have clashed in the past regarding whether asymptomatic people are carriers or not. The issue being if you have the disease and don’t know it, you can’t know to mark yourself at high risk. And since there seems to be no certainty about whether such a person can be a spreader or not, having an app that relies on self-reported information means it may not be as helpful as we would like.

Still, if you are short of breath and dry coughing, you are also likely shedding a lot of virus – this is where such an app can be extremely helpful.

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