Two weeks before the mainland, “Alertanoo” will warn residents who have encountered a person who fell ill in the following days.
While the controversial Stop-Covid application is to be launched on June 2 in mainland France, Reunion Islanders will be able to use their mobile phones on Monday to check if they come across contaminated people. On this first day of deconfinement, the inhabitants of the overseas department will indeed have an app available so : “Alertanoo” (“alert us” in Creole). “The system interacts with citizens, as does Waze for traffic on the roads. It’s not an app that flirts and sends white coats without our say ”, underlines Alfred Chane Pane. This printer initiated the project, along with two other Reunionese entrepreneurs of Chinese origin.
Alfred Chane Pane, who also runs a helicopter company, has family members in Taiwan and Singapore; it was inspired by the measures taken in Asia by the authorities, “But less liberticide”, he reassures.
The principle: you have to download Alertanoo from your phone store. First originality: the user launches the app as he likes, when he arrives in a busy area. And turns it off when he’s alone, in his car or at home. At the supermarket, his cell phone records the encrypted identifiers of the people he meets who also have the application open.
Another specificity: the system uses Bluetooth but also the Internet and ultrasound. The use of this software, in this case Google Nearby, would avoid compatibility problems between devices and would be more reliable, says the developer, Philippe Arnaud, director of the company Medialight. Nearby had however been abandoned by Google in 2018 because its users complained of too many spam emails … But it was then used by brands for street marketing.
“The only way to prevent the epidemic from restarting”
Now our user is getting sick. His doctor, after analysis, informs him that he has contracted the virus. He suggested that he warn people they met the previous twenty-one days, when he could be contagious without showing symptoms. “We do not violate medical confidentiality, it is the patient who decides to inform him of his situation, without his name or the places where he went to be revealed”, says Christine Kowalczyk, president of the Regional Union of Liberal Physicians. Philippe Arnaud insists on this last point: “Alertanoo is not an application of tracing or from tracking like StopCovid. “
If the patient agrees, the general practitioner connects to a portal and receives a unique and provisional code, which enables an alert notification to be sent to the persons concerned. The data collected having passed through the server and the telephones are then erased. It’s the doctor, not the patient, who gets the unlock, to prevent “Clever little ones don’t launch false alarms”. “My colleagues will be ready, hope Christine Kowalczyk, because that’s the only way to keep the epidemic from starting again. “ In Reunion, there were 425 cases this Tuesday and no deaths.
To be effective, however, “70% of the population should be equipped with the application”, recognizes Alfred Chane Pane. An advertising campaign worth 200,000 euros will be launched on Monday. For the design of the application, the project received a 50% subsidy from the Overseas Ministry, or 35,000 euros. The rest was financed by the project leaders, gathered within the Ansamb collective (“together” in Creole), which does not aim at any profit. Pascal Thiaw Kine, boss of Leclerc supermarkets in Reunion and partner: “The important thing is that the social and economic life of our island restarts.” The codes of the app will even be published in open source, other overseas territories having expressed their interest.