Corona Crisis: Infected for healthy people

Potsdam's expert for digital medicine recommends evaluating cell phone data in order to better separate infected and healthy people.

Cell phone tracking is said to help fight the pandemic
Cell phone tracking is said to help fight the pandemic. (PHOTO: DPA)

Potsdam – Comprehensive tests and tracking of mobile phone data can help to overcome the corona crisis more quickly: Erwin Bottinger, head of the Digital Health Center of the Hasso Plattner Institute (HPI), advocates this in the current HPI podcast “Neuland”. “The rules on the ban on contact currently apply to everyone – whether you are at risk or not,” says Bottinger. This is neither necessary nor sustainable in the long run, neither in society nor in economic terms.

So that life goes on normally for the rest

It makes more sense if only the infected and their contacts had to be quarantined, then life could go on normally for the rest. To this end, Germany should follow South Korea and Singapore as a role model, says Bottinger: Both countries rely on comprehensive tests and the evaluation of mobile phone GPS data. Both measures enabled the infected and their contact persons to be quickly identified and isolated, said Bottinger.

Massive criticism from the opposition, SPD and data protection

Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) had originally intended in his draft law to combat the corona crisis to evaluate cell phone location data of infected people nationwide and to contact persons in case of doubt. After massive criticism from the opposition, the SPD and data protection officers, who feared extensive surveillance of the citizens, Spahn had withdrawn the passage and spoke of “massive interference with fundamental rights”. Union politicians are now opting for a voluntary solution, like the app in Singapore. Bottinger believes that such a solution can be implemented in compliance with data protection regulations: there must be a precise strategy, the data must be anonymized and it must be precisely regulated which data is used for what.