Yesterday, decentralized Internet of Things (IoT) startup Nodle.io launched Coalition, a contact tracing application to contain the spread of COVID-19. The company says the app preserves user privacy.
Coalition will use Nodle’s Bluetooth Low Energy-powered network to communicate with nearby devices. Once a user downloads the app and turns on Bluetooth, the app will record anonymous encounters with other Coalition users nearby. For privacy, these encounters are stored locally on the phone.
The application generates a random anonymous ID of the user’s identity using an open protocol called Coalition Whisper Tracing. If a user declares that they are sick, the anonymous IDs from the phone are sent to the cloud. The app on another user’s phone then downloads these ‘infected’ IDs and compares it with the IDs stored locally. Other users are notified if they came in contact with an infected person.
“We believe the only way to stop COVID-19 is through massive cooperation and solidarity between citizens around the world who can do their part to protect themselves and their communities,” said Micha Benoliel, CEO and Co-Founder of Nodle. “We must work fast to put the right safeguards in place before we reopen society and put economies back on track.”
Nodle has open-sourced its Whisper Tracing protocol and is making it available to other tracing apps. Apple and Google are also working together to develop a contract tracing solution to fight the Coronavirus pandemic. Nodle said it would integrate Apple and Google’s protocol with Coalition if it enables interoperability.
The app will be released next week in California with the help of local leaders. Coalition is operating as a non-profit, and current partners include Berkeley Blockchain Xcelerator, NY Tech Alliance, TCN Coalition, COVID Alliance, and a few others.
Among similar initiatives to Coalition, the Singapore government has launched the TraceTogether app for contact tracing.
Meanwhile, Evernym, ID2020, uPort, Microsoft, ConsenSys Health and 64 other organizations have launched the COVID Credentials initiative (CCI). The goal is to develop immunity passports using a digital identity.
Stepping back and looking at Nodle.io as a company, it is building a connectivity service for IoT using Bluetooth. Most smart devices come with a Bluetooth chip embedded in their systems. The company is giving incentives to users in the form of Nodle Cash to participate and validate data packets transferred within the network. This Nodle Cash stays on the blockchain called Arcadia, developed in-house by the company by leveraging the Polkadot Network and Parity Substrate. It previously used Stellar.