04/16/2020 – Senior Web Editor
April 16, 2020
Senior Web Editor
Fight virus with “Corona Science” app
With the launched Corona Science app, citizens can actively help fight the pandemic – by collecting data and donating anonymously. This enables the pandemic and the burden on the population to be tracked more precisely. The app developed by the Bern University of Applied Sciences BFH and MIDATA Cooperative is supported by the cantons of Bern and Neuchâtel, eHealth Suisse, opendata.ch and other partners.
In contrast to contact tracing apps, “Corona Science” aims to ensure that the general public collects urgently needed data on COVID-19 and their life situation in the lockdown. Everyone can make an active contribution with this app and donate their data anonymously. The data entered by the citizens are not analyzed by the Corona Science team itself, but are made anonymous and aggregated and made available to all interested parties in accordance with the open data principle. They can be used by epidemiologists, researchers or care planners to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
“With the anonymized data, the pandemic can be tracked more precisely in a situation where the contact of the population with the healthcare system is limited,” says Serge Bignens, head of the Institute for Medical Informatics I4MI at the BFH. In this way, analyzes of the “Corona Science” data can provide more knowledge about the course of the disease, identify local outbreaks, show the psychological stress on the population during and after the lockdown, and help plan exit strategies. The project already receives broad support from the cantons of Bern and Neuchâtel, eHealth Suisse, opendata.ch and other partners. The Corona Science effort is also coordinated with the Tracking the Dynamics of COVID-19 initiative (covidtracker.ch); both initiatives complement each other with their data in the fight against the pandemic.
Questions about symptoms and the life situation in lockdown
The Corona Science app regularly asks users about typical symptoms of COVID-19 disease, such as coughing or loss of smell. In addition to data on the corona virus, the app collects further information on the condition and additional stress due to the lockdown. For example, questions about home office, short-time work or childcare are asked as well as other questions related to the measures against the pandemic. «It’s not just about symptoms. Together with mood data, society can better understand the situation during the lockdown and plan exit strategies, »explains Bignens. In addition, the app links to relevant information and help offers and can be used as a communication channel to users.
Full control over your own data
The data is stored in personal accounts on the secure and data protection compliant MIDATA platform. They therefore belong to the citizens. “App users have full control over their data at all times,” explains Dominik Steiger, branch manager of the MIDATA cooperative. “This way, the consent to the sharing of anonymized data with the Open Data Community can be terminated at any time,” says Steiger.
The “Corona Science” project is now dependent on the active participation of the population. Serge Bignens states: «In this time of crisis, everyone can make a contribution. The health professional, the childcare worker and the healthy or sick person who donates their anonymized data for the fight and better understanding of COVID-19. »
The “Corona Science” app is not a contact tracing app. It is not about identifying contact persons, but about the urgently needed data about the condition and the course of the disease. If a solution for a tracking standard emerges (e.g. PEPP-PT), there is the possibility of a data protection-compliant connection. The app is also not intended for diagnosis or self-diagnosis, but it does contain links to information and help offers. It also offers the option of creating a user community that can be informed about measures and the disease via the app.
Info and app download: www.coronascience.ch