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#And after. What will be the application of tomorrow to fight against the Covid-19?

Digital tools have a role to play in the fight against the epidemic. How, for what use, under what conditions? Update with Mathis Cohen and Simon Matet, from the Terra Nova think tank.

Coronavirus: what next? franceinfo opens the debate. A large-scale exchange to stimulate and share questions, ideas, testimonies and open the debate as widely as possible on tomorrow's solutions: # AndAfter, what needs to change? This contribution of Terra Nova is signed by Mathis Cohen, coordinator of the digital pole and Simon Matet, coordinator of the data pole.


The current health crisis poses the unprecedented question of the use of digital technology as a public health tool. Used in an overall plan, with the masks and tests needed, digital tools can change the course of the epidemic. But how can digital help a health policy? We can distinguish three uses:

Analysis which aims to model the progress of the epidemic. This crisis has seen unprecedented data sharing between companies, such as mobile operators, and institutions to inform public decision-making.

Information intended for individuals, for self-assessment of the disease and for voluntary isolation. These devices are varied, from the online questionnaire to guide the patient to tracing to follow his interactions and isolate himself in the event of risky contacts.

Control, to automate individual monitoring and restrictions previously imposed manually. Besides the massive use of personal data, which is highly developed in China for example, other less invasive quarantine control models exist.

This typology is crucial to understanding which devices we are talking about in the context of deconfinement. Thus, the analysis and modeling devices are already in place and will continue to be widely used and improved. One can imagine that tomorrow we will be able to follow the evolution of the epidemic on a neighborhood scale. It will then be possible to set up targeted actions to limit the rebound with systematic tests and local containment.

This is the case of the contact tracking application mentioned by the government. To prevent any drift in surveillance, anonymous contact tracking devices can be devised, not using geolocation data, being voluntary and storing data on the user's device.

It is a condition sine qua non of the success of these applications which require very wide adoption to be effective. Currently 60% of the population would need to use it to see a full effect. However, we estimate that a 25% stake could already halve the number of contaminations. Fortunately, the CNIL ensures the protection of personal data. The Assemblies will also debate this question.

However, the processing of personal data is not the only criterion for ensuring a recommendation for fair, just and proportionate confinement. Thus the use of a centralized server or a decentralized network does not have the same implication for the protection of the privacy of the user even if the processing of personal data remains the same. This is why we are calling for the creation of a new independent authority aimed more generally at framing and controlling public applications and algorithms.

>> Go further: What digital response to the Covid-19 crisis? Terra Nova, April 4, 2020

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