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Belgians develop anonymous contact tracing system

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A Belgian start-up has developed a contact tracing system that could alert employees of a potential coronavirus infection in the workplace without compromising personal data.

The system, Savitas (which stands for Scoped Anonymous Viral Infection Tracing At Scale), was announced on Tuesday by Belgian start-up Esoptra and inspection and control company Vinçotte.

Contact tracing means identifying which people have come into contact with an infected person and thus may carry the virus themselves. 

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In companies that choose to use Savitas, workers can alert the system if they have been diagnosed with the new coronavirus (Covid-19) by scanning a QR code on their smartphone. Anyone who has scanned the same QR code around the same time as the person infected will then be alerted the next time they scan, or when they visit the website.

The solution does not use any personal data, GPS signal or Bluetooth. “Savitas is not an application. Our QR codes cannot be linked to any sensitive data and companies cannot trace or use the data,” said Esoptra CEO Alexander Carpentier.

“For companies, the system is a digital complement to the basic rules (washing hands, keeping your distance, putting on a protective mask). Employees are free to choose whether or not to scan the QR codes, but it’s in their best interest to do so,” said Gretel Schrijvers, Managing Director of Mensura, an external occupational health service that supports Savitas. 

The system is also backed by prevention consultants Attentia and the Vias Institute. The University of Antwerp is also providing academic support for the initiative.

Savitas is currently in the test phase. It should be fully operational when the companies reopen. The Belgian government recently announced a gradual return to work from 4 May.

Jason Spinks
The Brussels Times

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