The traCor project aims to connect and inform the public, but also provide crucial data to the hospitals and civic stakeholders that seek to provide infrastructure in a time of crisis.
traCor will operate by aggregating information from all public sources and its users willing to share it. By combining and cross checking data, traCor will be the most accurate monitoring and prediction tool for COVID-19. This will respond to the current need for a single access to data on the disease, as opposed to its current scatteredness.
Bled Institute has been founded as a think-tank and a centre for science and development. Its aim is to promote science and its central role in a modern society.
The COVID-19 outbreak created tremendous sanitary issues that can and should be helped by science. By proposing to gather experts together in order to address the lack of a unified access to information and predictions on the disease, this initiative falls directly into the Institute’s strategy.
Idea & solution
The unprecedented situation in which the COVID-19 contagion has placed the global society requires a swift and a technologically adequate response. We propose to provide a technology, traCor, which has two core functions.
Firstly, traCor tracks the spread of the virus in real-time and locally to the user. This would greatly assist the general public in their being informed and their taking precautions of not being contaminated.
Secondly, traCor uses machine learning, as part of AI, to create models of the contagion and project most likely future scenarios based on real-time trends and data from other regions of the world. This would also provide the best data-driven assistance to the hospitals and civic protection institutions to prepare for possible waves of contagion.
Averting the spread can therefore be drastically improved if there is a tool which enables the user to track the spread and act responsibly. As two scientists have recently argued (as reported in the New York Times on 13 March, 2020), there is still something we can do, “but only if we intervene early. That means now.”
Upon downloading traCor or visiting the website version, the user will register with traCor which will require minimal information, location and status being the two most important ones:
- Location will be used to inform Friends & Family Members (which the user may add).
- Status categories range from
- “I have and show no symptoms. I have not been tested.”
- “I have and show symptoms. I have not been tested.”
- “I have and show symptoms. I have been tested. The results are negative”
- “I have and show symptoms. I have been tested. The results are positive”
The traCor app would allow for, at least, two types of tracking: (a) a friends and family pane which would allow the tracking and status view of individuals’ precise location, and a (b) general colour-codes viewing pane (ranging from green to red) for quadrant within a specified location on a map.
The traCor will also be designed to send alerts to the users if they are in the vicinity of an infected user. Based on the user’s age and health status, traCor will also calculate risks of entering certain areas.
Likewise, a user in need may use traCor to send an alert in case the user requires food supplies. The traCor app will also integrate an emergency call button which will place a call to the emergency services or, if the situation is not critical, the regional/national COVID-19 information hotline.
The Need for traCor
There are no existing alternatives to the traCor idea we propose here. The timing could, sadly, not be more paramount given the current health condition of the EU and the world.
Most users browse the web for information pertaining to the spread and public status of COVID-19, and/or they seek national news channels. This is an inadequate form of information flow as the contagion of the virus requires a real-time tracking. The proposed traCor project would not substitute any existing forms of information dissemination, but rather build on and improve.
We identify the following use cases and points of application and usability:
- “As a potentially affected patient, I want guidance”
- “As someone close to people at risk, I want to make sure they’re safe”
- “As a hospital Director, I want to know how the disease is spreading in my region”
- “As a government Expert, I want a simple access to healthcare data related to COVID-19”
- “As a News Agency, I want the most recent and most accurate statistical information and future predictions”
With financial securement, we would be able to proceed to a phase at which a full team could be accumulated.
The traCor project is a very feasible one, and requires a three-level approach in order to release it soundly:
- A stable technological product, which will be freely available as a downloadable application across applications, as well a web version.
- A strong support team, both technological (fixing bugs) and data-scientific (gathering and precifying data).
- A PR team which will promote the use and ensure and guide the vulnerable group (the elderly and the ill) in their use of traCor.
As of yet, we are unable to find a competitive technology which would be designed to tackle the issues we identify. Hence we identify this as a unique point behind the idea of traCor.
In parallel to core technological developments, we require a commercialisation, or rather promotion, of traCor. We anticipate that this will be done both in-house as well as by our strategic partners (e.g., governments, local and general, hospitals, other NGOs, etc.).
The only regulatory compliance we identify is that of personal data protection, which we take very seriously as we do not aim to risk sacrificing any aspect of data protection for the purposes of we set to achieve.
Implementation & our Call-Out
The two founding partners of the Institute, and the traCor project, would be happy to increase their levels of commitment were it not for their preexisting daily work commitments. Financing would therefore enable a very strong team to be gathered through hirings or, in the first instance, volunteering. As we are planning to develop an app and an associated website, the following technical expertise will be required:
- Product designers, in charge of defining user needs and respond to them with mock ups, workflows;
- Fullstack developers, in charge of actually building the app;
- Data scientists and engineers, in charge of acquiring, curating, aggregating and storing data from multiple sources (including data directly submitted to traCor by users);
- Machine Learning Engineers, in charge of developing and deploying models for risk and epidemic predictions.
- Other roles as yet unidentified precisely.
We will also require a PR team, responsible for identifying strategic partners and run promotional campaigns with them. We expect a sudden rise of popularity of traCor, with which the expanded promotional team will critically assist. Given the non-profit nature of our conception of traCor, as also reflected by this application, we do not expect nor desire any financial return on investment.
We hope to release further updates in due course but hope to hear from you in the meantime.