Venture capitalist Albert Wenger wrote on his blog today that the road back from COVID-19 could start — as early as May — provided we’re able to get our act together around three essential things: masks, tests, and tracing for everyone. We have all been talking about the importance of these things over the last few weeks, but I think it’s worth mentioning just how quickly some of this is starting to happen.
Both Apple and Google have announced that they are building a voluntary contact-tracing network. By May, they hope to release a set of APIs that other software developers will be able to build on top of. Bluetooth will be what is used to detect when humans are in close proximity to each other. Eventually, both companies plan to integrate contact tracing right into their operating systems.
Here’s how it might work:
Of course, we are also seeing new startups emerge, like this one here called Coronatrace.
Similar to what Apple and Google have in mind, the app will be a voluntary contact-tracing network. By using it, your phone will begin to log how you move about, something that is already happening today with many of the apps we already use. Should someone test positive for COVID-19 (they would need to update their health status within the app), it would then immediately notify the network and anyone who might have crossed paths with them.
Obviously it would be far better to simply have a vaccine. But the experts are saying that will take some time — 12 to 18 months? And in the interim, we’re going to need to get the global economy back up and running. Seeing solutions like these being developed makes me hopeful we’ll be able to do that sooner rather than later.