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Kenyan youth developing app to track coronavirus contacts

Health & Science

Fuata App developer Peter Munyi. He believes if complete, the application will save Kenya from thousands of coronavirus infections. [Courtesy]

With Covid-19 described as a silent and brutal killer, many countries in Asia have employed technology to aid in their fight against the virus.

It is the same battle that a young Kenyan inventor is waging thousands of miles away from the orient.

Peter Munyi is developing a tracking app called Fuata (Swahili word meaning follow) which, according to him, might be a game-changer in the battle with Covid-19.

The app has one simple job, to alert you if you have come in contact with anyone infected with the highly-contagious virus.

How it works

For everyone who has downloaded and installed the Fuata app, a unique ID is given to them. So when you are walking in town or around your residential area and meet with somebody, the app communicates remotely to the other person's phone through the same application.

“It records the ID of that person and keeps all that data for a period of 21 to 30 days. This data is used to identify anyone you would have met in those days and was later diagnosed with the virus,” Munyi says of what happens behind the scene.

And like all new technologies, the issues of privacy especially in tracking tech has been contentious.

“We are aware of how important privacy is and that’s why we won’t be using GPS but proximity sensing technology like what is used in Xender (a media sharing app.) This doesn’t disclose any information about someone,” says Munyi.

Way forward

Munyi is now calling for help to be able to finish a dream that might save the lives of many Kenyans and even people across the world.

In a video posted on Twitter, he mentioned that what could take him months to complete can be done in a matter of weeks if he gets the help of tech giants such as Safaricom and Craft Silicon.

“With the support of these huge companies, we can be done in one and a half weeks,” the programmer says confidently.

Here's a video on Fuata App that am working on. It helps track your contact with other people for a period of 30 days. If somebody you were near to tested positive, you are notified right away. Cc: @DrAlfredMutua@mucheru@MutahiKagweKE@KBudhabhatti@dmuchemi#YouthsOnCoronaKE pic.twitter.com/J67xR4USmG

— Peter Munyi (@petamunyi) April 5, 2020

The young inventor’s bulb moment has come at a time when Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe called on the youth to be innovative in curbing the spread of Covid-19.

Three days after posting a video about his blueprint idea of Fuata App, a dozen developers have hopped on to his boat and are working together with him to ensure it’s done in the shortest time possible.

In China, robots have been employed in disinfecting hospitals and delivering medical supplies while in South Korea, the authorities are using satellite phone technology to track possible carriers of Covid-19.

It is without a doubt that employing technology in the fight against Covid-19 can go a long way in accelerating our speed in dealing with the pandemic.

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