The Chinese government has turned to tech giants in a desperate attempt to curb the spread of the deadly Coronavirus that has claimed more than 1,800 lives in mainland China and infected more than 73,000 people across the globe.
China teams up with tech companies to contain outbreak
The government has enlisted the help of two of China's biggest tech companies to roll out a nationwide colour-based tracking system to keep track of those suffering from symptoms of COVID-19, as reported by Reuters.
The companies that have been chosen by the Chinese government to help it in its sci-fi-esque endeavour to contain the spread of the Coronavirus include Alibaba Group Holdings, Asia's largest digital advertising, e-commerce and cloud platform as well as Tencent Holdings, one of the world's largest video game companies and the force behind the popular WhatsApp-like messaging platform WeChat.
How does it work?
Alipay, a payment platform operated by Alibaba's subsidiary Ant Financial, recently rolled out a new feature that sends a colour-based QR code to individuals via smartphone. The QR code is determined by the answers submitted by the said individuals in an online health survey.
Based on the symptoms they've been experiencing or whether they've travelled recently, they're given one of three colours that's linked with their unique ID number. While green means the user has been approved to travel freely, yellow instructs the user to remain in quarantine for at least seven days. The colour red is used in the most severe cases and carries a 14-day quarantine period, instructing the users to frequently check-in via the Alibaba chat app.
The feature has already been made available to residents of Hangzhou in eastern China as part of a trial run and as of Sunday, Alipay has started working with federal authorities to start rolling out the feature across the nation. The government reportedly has plans to deploy this system at travel checkpoints and within individual neighbourhoods to track those who might spread the disease.
Two Hangzhou residents told the publication that they were asked to scan their QR codes before entering their apartment complexes, and a third was asked to show her QR code before being allowed into a local supermarket.
Tencent announced a similar feature on Saturday as part of a partnership with China's National Development and Reform Council. The company revealed via social media that the feature has been rolled out in the southern city of Shenzhen and will soon branch out to the great Guangdong province.