The University of Namibia (UNAM) has successfully launched a mobile app, named “NamCotrace”, that has the potential to become a key weapon in stopping the spread of COVID-19 through community-driven contact tracing. NamCotrace is available on Android phones and is coming soon on iOS phones.
Combining user’s geo-location with epidemiological data in real time, this community-driven app will help inform users who might have come into contact with an infected person or are at a higher risk. Such users will then be connected with the healthcare system. This will assist in providing a swift response to inform and isolate potential carriers of the virus, while protecting the healthy populations.
Dr Erold Naomab, Assistant Pro-Vice Chancellor of the UNAM Southern Campus and the leader of this project said, “In the current pandemic, contact tracing is key to protecting ourselves and those around us to reduce the spread of Covid-19. NamCotrace makes it faster and effective to complete contact tracing on Namibia’s scale. This will also be an important tool as we open up the economy to protect ourselves and our loved ones”.
NamCotrace has the functionality to warn people, when entering a high-risk transmission zone, and also provides a source of reliable information related to Coronavirus in the Namibian context. “Privacy by design” is core to the app with user consent required to install and use the app.
Dr Naomab further added, “We are pleased to be piloting the NamCotrace among the UNAM community first. We will thereafter engage the appropriate stakeholders to deploy it nationwide”.
The use of mobile technology to fight diseases is a new and emerging concept across the world. Namibia is among the first crop of African countries to try and use mobile technology to trace and engage with individual users. It is also expected that NamCotrace will be a tool to help with opening up the economy by protecting the vulnerable and protecting the users and their families on an ongoing basis.