Liechtenstein to provide citizens with biometric bracelets to contain coronavirus
Liechtenstein has introduced a tech program to provide biometric bracelets for its citizens to monitor COVID-19 in real-time and keep track of the number of new cases arising in the region, writes the Financial Times.
The test pilot will start with providing a bracelet for one in 20 individuals. The smart wearable will collect data such as temperature, and breathing and heart rate, and transmit it to a lab in Switzerland for further investigations.
The second stage is announced for Q3 when all some 38,000 citizens will receive a bracelet, confirmed Mauro Pedrazzini, Liechtenstein’s minister for social affairs, in an interview with the Financial Times.
“This is science, and there is no guarantee [the theory] will work, but it is probable that it could work very well,” Pedrazzini said. “What we and other governments need are early warning systems to deal with this crisis.”
The initiative may raise concerns regarding government access to public health and private data, as extensive efforts are made by governments across the world to track health information to stop COVID-19. At the time of the article, there were only 79 cases reported, yet the government did take prevention measures to contain it. Workers who have direct contact with infections are tested on a weekly basis and the country also monitors sewage output.
With a second wave of infections expected in Q3, Pedrazzini trusts the data collected from the first 2,000 activated bracelets will provide insights into improving detection algorithms for the national implementation announced for later this year. By rapidly detecting coronavirus cases, governments could use the tool in their strategy to restart their economies.
The biometric bracelet program was developed by Lorenz Risch, president of Switzerland’s Dr Risch Laboratories and subsidized by the Princely House of Liechtenstein. Pedrazzini assures citizens about the government’s commitment to data privacy protection, and that people will have to give consent for the data to be used to fight the epidemic. Some 2,000 people are already part of the clinical study which was ethically audited by health authorities in Switzerland. The devices are provided by Swiss medical tech company Ava, which originally designed them to monitor women’s fertility cycles.