COVID-Apps Around the Globe
Within the scope of the Covid-19 pandemic, several mobile apps were developed and appointed for the supply of scientific communities, health institutions and security facilities.
In China, the mobile citizens have to use Alipay Health Code app. The usage of Alipay Health Code is obligatory for every Chinese citizen who wants to move and travel on public places. It divides the citizens in three states according to criteria of risk. Only citizens who have a “green” status are able to travel. People this “yellow” or “red” status have to stay at home. Security officers check the smartphones of the citizen, e.g. in the entrance of metro stations. It is directly connected with Healths Centers but also with police stations. The feedback system of this app is quite limited. The citizens cannot understand clearly when their status turns to red and when it will return to yellow or green again.
But these kinds of Health Code apps cannot run in European countries because of ethical standards and regulations, like data protection, privacy, etc. The Charité in Berlin published recently the “CovApp”. With help of this online application, citizens can upload basic health and travel information to Charité’s database to support the research of their scientist. In return, they get basic feedback about staying at home, phone numbers for emergency calls, etc. But specific information related with the provided personal data are not given.
The innovative potential of PandeVITA-App
The innovative potential of PandeVITA’s research activities and product is that it contributes to responsible research and innovation processes though a better understanding and more efficient knowledge circulation through all systems of the quadruple helix during future periods of pandemics. This leads to a decrease of negative impacts on social life and economy, increase the power of and stabilize European collaborations.
Additionally, it supports activities to gain control of other crises as well. For instance, the activities to combat climate change needs a similar understanding of the knowledge circulation through the systems of science, economy, media- and culture-based public, politics but extended by the fifth system “natural environment of societies” which constitutes the quintuple helix for enabling sustainable innovation processes. The analyses of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis executed by the PandeVITA consortium and supported by citizen science activities lead to innovative organisational models and novel approached to combat crisis where all systems of the quintuple helix are involved.
Within the PandeVITA application, Corona citizen scientists and app developers will be able to continuous communicate within their communities, professionals and other members of the quadruple helix, collect data, while kept engaged, trained and informed in an easy way under the framework and guidance of the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.
The application will provide location-based services for community mapping and citizen science. It will offer tailor-made collection and display information required by the drivers of the PandeVITA project. Data capture will be organized in manual-based and sensor-based, both fed with analytics and decision support to allow automatic and supervised collection and delivery of information upon dynamic authorization and consent. In order to allow feasibility (i.e. the different citizen scientist groups and individuals must decide what information they are interested in), a tailored software development approach will be adopted for each group and combined with a creation-toolkit for non-technical administrators, without the need of programming skills to define the communication and data management flows within the apps and the platform.
Legal and Ethical Frameworks on Data Protection and Privacy
PandeVITA will analyse privacy and data protection regulations from different countries including EU regulations in emergency situations. In pandemic cases like COVID-19, data collection and data sharing become important issues. Additionally, security of information is relevantt, there are data protection and privacy regulations, on the other hand protection of public health and public interest. A sensitive balance should be created between these fundamental rights.
Security and privacy are closely related with each other, however, there are significant differences that need to be understood in order to design new systems that address both. Privacy is about informational self-determination, the ability to decide what information about individuals goes where. Security offers the ability to be confident that those decisions are respected. Processing of personal data can create risk of violating the fundamental rights and freedoms of persons at a high level. For that reason, data protection impact assessment must be carried out prior to the processing activities. Under these conditions, the measurements are taken strictly by governments, public and private organisations throughout Europe. Consent of the data owner is needed for the data users and this consent must be obtained separately for each data processing activity.
Within the scope of the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), it has been stated that data protection impact assessment must be carried out especially before the sensitive data will be processed and profiling activities. Data protection rules (such as GDPR) do not hinder measures taken in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Indeed, the GDPR provides for the legal grounds to enable the employers and the competent public health authorities to process personal data in the context of epidemics, without the need to obtain the consent of the data subject.
PandeVITA executes a comparative legal study between the public health, public interest and the fundamental rights of the individuals on the basis of privacy and data protection in emergency situations. A literature study will be done about the legal regulations in different countries including EU legislation. A legislative framework will be drawn about the regulations in different countries for processing of personal data for reasons of public interest in the area of public health or to protect vital interests. The regulations in ordinary times will be compared with the legislation of the emergency situations, under the principles of democracy and other regimes, how they effect the fundamental rights.