Wave Guard, a leading provider of mobile data analysis located in Kfar Saba, Israel, has created an algorithm-based solution that allows government healthcare agencies to trace contacts of COVID-19-infected individuals accurately, effectively, and in real time. This is critical to the long-term fight against the pandemic, delivering the ability to responsibly lift quarantine, reopen global economies, and fight the next wave of coronavirus outbreak.
Founded in 2009, Wave Guard Technologies is an expert in extracting and analyzing big data location information from cellular networks and providing advanced insight and analysis tools for homeland security organizations, emergency services and government entities.
On Sunday, Israel’s High Court of Justice ruled that the Shin Bet is not allowed to continue its cellphone tracking of confirmed coronavirus carriers unless the government officially amends the country’s existing privacy laws.
Enter Wave Guard’s contact tracing.
A Wave Guard promotional video
“Contact-tracing technology must be able to pinpoint the geolocation of people who have been exposed to the virus and those in their immediate vicinity,” explains Wave Guard CEO, former Major General Uzi Moscovici. “In countries where apps are already available, like Singapore and Israel, only a very small percentage of smartphone users have downloaded them, rendering the app method ineffective. Additionally, those with no smartphones, generally the most vulnerable populations, are effectively excluded from the tracing.”
Unlike existing apps and the technology under development by companies like Apple and Google , Wave Guard’s technology tracks anyone with any kind of cellphone (not just smartphones), with no downloads required, allowing national, state, regional, and local health department officials to pinpoint diagnosed individuals via algorithmic analyses of mobile data, understanding their routes and with whom they met.
App-based tracing cannot achieve the necessary level of penetration (at least 60%) to save lives. Most countries only have a 60-80% penetration of smartphones, even if everyone opted in (which they do not – and will probably not, unless those apps will be legislated); therefore, 20-40% of users would be untraceable. These users are the most vulnerable populations – elderly, low-income individuals, immigrants, etc. – are less likely to own smartphones, so they are unable to be detected, putting themselves and others in life-threatening situations.
When using Wave Guard’s solution, once an infected individual has been diagnosed, that person’s previous path can be tracked using Wave Guard, allowing health officials to contact individuals who were in the vicinity by SMS. This cuts down on the manpower required to trace each interaction. The system can be used to create heat maps to warn health officials about vulnerable neighborhoods even as the virus begins to spread.
Fully compliant with Europe’s General Data Protection Regulations and California’s Consumer Privacy Act, the technology is flexible in how it can be programmed to handle consent issues. It does not collect geolocation data from individual’s devices; instead, it uses pre-filtered, anonymized information provided by mobile operators. When the incubation period and quarantines are over, all data analyses can be quickly and easily erased.
“More than 2.5 million people around the world already have COVID-19, and that’s after stay-at-home measures and human tracing have been implemented to try to flatten the curves,” Moscovici said. “With Wave Guard’s technology, people will be able to move about more confidently, and health officials need only get involved when the public’s welfare is being violated.”