In the beginning of April 2020, a group of scientists of several Belgian universities united in a multidisciplinary consortium with the purpose of exploring how m-Health can help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Its members come from a number of diverse and relevant domains like epidemiology, law, privacy, data science and digital technology (see Initiators). Several members are involved in concrete experiments:
- COVered app is currently running in closed beta limited to collaborators of UGent. The pilot explores to what extent GPS data can contribute to mapping the virus.
- Corona Compass is a mobile app that enables users to share their GPS and bluetooth proximity data with manual contact tracers. Its purpose is to save time during the manual contact tracing process, making it more efficient.
As a whole, this group has gained relevant expertise (often based on empirical insights) that can facilitate the debate around digital contact tracing tools.
We emphasize that our motives are based on the academic pursuit of new scientific knowledge and a desire to use this knowledge for the public good. Although we have involved private partners in our consortium for their relevant expertise (e.g. in the field of digital product development), we have no ulterior business motives.
It is our ambition to facilitate accurate scientific research because we are convinced that it can save lives. Now more than ever. We are confident that a sustained collaboration of experts will lead to a stronger evidence-base and ultimately a better choice about how to employ technology to serve society in dealing with this challenge.