EPIDEM is a new type of pandemic control tool, and privacy concerns have been at the heart of EPIDEM since its early days. These concerns have been addressed and alleviated with the following methodologies:
Invisible Data Management On Your Phone
1- EPIDEM needs access to your file system only for the purpose of logging on. No other data is removed or accessed on your phone because not everyone has access to emails and complex web browsers.
If EPIDEM is to work at its most effective, we need the majority of a population or quarantine bubble to have quick and fault-free access to EPIDEM. User verification and log-on functions have been automated because many people do not use their smartphones as a web browser or emailing system.
Therefore, EPIDEM generates and records an automatic log-on ID for you on your phone. This is done to make EPIDEM instantly useful in fighting infection outbreaks.
Removing Your Contact Data
When the epidemic is over, simply delete your name and contact details and they will be in turn deleted from the cloud database after you submit your final daily survey.
Only metadata remains. You can actually see all contact data and metadata every time you use EPIDEM.
Data Collection On Your Smartphone
Epidemiological data collection
1- Data collection and data analyses are at the heart of epidemiology.
An accurate collection of outbreak-related data saves lives. Epidemiologists and other public health officials can glean from an accurate data store’s valuable insights into how and where infections occur and use this information to help individuals to plan health resource allocation and to generate location specific public health advise.
2- Your privacy protection is vital. But it conflicts with epidemiological needs.
EPIDEM therefore uses a unique, two-tier data model.
a. Public/metadata model
Metadata is the glue which holds the Internet together. Without it the Internet cannot function. Google-type browsers and all social media and shopping cart systems need metadata to send and receive data and to return it to you on your smart phone or computer.
EPIDEM shows you at the point where data is sent to the EPIDEM cloud data store, which data is sent to the server.
Because metadata is vital to the smooth running of the Internet, EPIDEM keeps this data in cloud storage indefinitely. This is exactly what every other Internet technology, like Google-type browsers and all social media and shopping cart systems do.
For lay people, this is a hard concept to grasp. Therefore, the following explanation is designed to plain talk about metadata.
Metadata is nearly the same information we would have used in a paper-based telephone books.
·In a phone book, you have a phone number, which is on the internet your IP number.
·You have a home address, which on the Internet is your global satellite position (GPS). In EPDEM, this is your Longitude and your Latitude.
·In a paper phone book, you have your name listed publicly, which we do not need on the Internet.
·You have your gender listed in phone books, i.e., Rob is male etc. as in Mr. and Ms. for female etc. Therefore, your gender is public knowledge already.
·You have your approximate age listed, i.e., Mr. or Mrs. is a grown up because you have paid for a phone line, i.e., children did not have their own telephone lines. Therefore, your approximate age is already public knowledge in a paper phone book.
·On the Internet, we do not need to record your home address, whereas in a paper phone book, your home address was available to everyone.
Therefore, the Internet actually offers more privacy protection than a paper phone book.
b. Private contact data model
It is important to note that your private contact information is not connected to your meta data in EPIDEM. This is actually more private than a paper-based phone book.
·You do not have to enter this data, which has blue labeled data fields in EPIDEM. However, it might save yours and your family’s life if you can be contacted by your local COVID-19 tracing or health department team. The choice is yours. EPIDEM can work effectively with or without your contacts details.
·All data which is labeled blue on the first screen is private contact data.
·Mobile phone number
All other data you see on the screen is metadata.
3- What happens to my data after the pandemic is over?
Access to your metadata
Your metadata is visible on infection outbreak maps to the general public for only 14 days.
·If you did enter your contact details into EPIDEM, simply delete your private contact data in your app and do your last survey. EPIDEM then records your contact details as NULL.
·This means only your metadata remains on the cloud server.
·Your metadata is gold to epidemiologists and your local health department and infection tracers who are working to keep you and your family safe.
·Ultimately it is up to your government if they choose to delete all metadata. But frankly this would be as stupid as burning all paper phone books. It would also put you and your family’s future health and wellbeing at risk, because valuable insights of how an epidemic grows and is ultimately defeated would be lost.
Private Access to Data and Metadata
·EPIDEM social links create a bubble of linked infection-free app user. It is like a mobile quarantine system to keep infected people away from you or to contain and isolate infected people from the public.
This dual purpose of EPIDEM is a little strange. But think of it like an infected monkey in a cage. Is the infected monkey locked in the cage and protected from you? Or are you locked out or the cage and protected from the infected monkey? Both ideas hold true. EPIDEM therefore can quarantine and contain an infected monkey. Or quarantine you from catching and infection from the monkey.
·People in your infection-free bubble are known to you, they are your family and friends as well as your acquaintances like doctors, dentists, chemist, teachers, fellow students, playmates, kindergarten staff, cleaners, your grocers, service trades people, work colleague, customers, and entertainment and transport provider.
·Your social media connection stays active and is ready to be called on should another epidemic wave strike.
·If you started an Epidem social bubble connection you might be a health worker gathering or tracking infectious people and their contacts.