Researchers develop radio frequency system for contact tracing

By Park Sae-jin Posted : January 24, 2022, 11:14 Updated : January 24, 2022, 11:14

[Courtesy of KIST]

SEOUL -- South Korean researchers have developed an effective system that uses radiofrequency instead of GPS information to accurately track down people who had close contact with someone infected with COVID-19 in one hour. The system will be effective in epidemiological investigations at multi-purpose facilities such as large shopping malls and sports stadiums.
For its anti-epidemic campaign, South Korea's state health watchdog uses personalized QR codes recognizable by smartphone cameras at indoor facilities such as restaurants, hair salons, and shopping malls. Human investigators track and analyze foot traffic in case of infection. For outbreaks in outdoor areas, smartphone GPS logs are used to trace foot traffic. The Korea Diseases Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) uses credit card records to trace people, but it is useless against those who use cash.
The Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) said at an online seminar on January 23 that its research team has developed "Contact Tracing System" (CTS), a pinpoint close contact management system, using radiofrequency emitted by smart devices installed with a CTS app. The system will analyze the strength of radiofrequency from smartphones and detect those who were in the same area with an infected person. People can also carry wearable tags that transmit radiofrequency for disease tracking.
The new tracing process normally takes about 10 minutes because encrypted location information data is stored in smartphones. Data is used to compare and detect others who were in the same place at the same time. KIST said the system can detect people who came in close contact with an infected person for the last two weeks. 
The system was demonstrated at a national professional badminton league to trace spectators. KIST would apply the system at the head offices of Hyundai Motor and the National Health Insurance Service Ilsan Hospital in 2022. 
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