Frequently Asked Questions
What is EpiPath™?
- EpiPath™ is a free community-driven contact tracing mobile app from Zocial™. It is the first contact tracing system to use blockchain technology to protect user privacy. EpiPath™ anonymously identifies people (including those unknown to you) who you may have come in close contact with who have tested positive for Covid-19 or reported having symptoms, and alerts you. The automated technology does not rely on the memory of the user being traced or needing to recall where asymptomatic to infected persons have been. EpiPath™ is powered by the community (self-reporting) and paired with any existing public data to give you accurate and comprehensive real-time information.
In addition, EpiPath™ offers a health-focused information portal that includes verified News, live TV streams, Chat, Social Media, and Covid-19 Dashboard. The dashboard helps you assess your level of risk by quantifying your amount of social exposure and alerts you when you’re too close. The map, based on public data, keeps you aware of what’s happening in your location as well as places to avoid. Also included in the dashboard is a Self Report questionnaire where you can report and keep your health status up to date.
How does EpiPath™ work?
- EpiPath™ uses your Bluetooth proximity range detection anonymously. It works by exchanging short-distance Bluetooth signals between mobile phones that have the app installed to detect other participating EpiPath™ users in close proximity and alerts you if you are at risk. It logs the distance and duration time of you and those tested positive for Covid-19 or symptomatic. GPS works in conjunction with Bluetooth to detect location and beacon signals to log activities.
EpiPath™ is built on Zocial’s IBA™ blockchain technology to protect user privacy. It does not use invasive telecom SIM card tracking currently used by many other systems that can track and record your mobile activities. The use of Blockchain technology is a simple and secure way of protecting your identity while giving you accurate, up-to-date, and verifiable data of the public health status. All data collected is stored on the blockchain and encrypted. Only you can access your data with your private key.
Bluetooth and push notifications must be turned on in your phone settings for the app to work. Additionally, users consent to participate by granting access to their mobile phone number which is also required for tracing and data logging. No personal or financial data is ever required from the user. Complete privacy and anonymity are ensured and maintained at all times.
Once you download the app to participate and opt-in by granting permission to access your Bluetooth, you will be able to submit a questionnaire on your health status which will help track Covid-19 activities in your area. EpiPath™ relies on self-reporting to be effective. If an app user is later confirmed positive, they can then update their questionnaire, at which time the app will alert other app users who had previously come into contact with them in the past 14 days. Users who receive a notification can then take appropriate actions. The app works when adopted among communities of users who want to help notify each other and establish early warning systems within their own communities of friends, families, and those they care about.
What is unique about EpiPath™?
EpiPath™ is built on a number of Zocial™ technologies that work together to help protect your identity and privacy while enabling you to mitigate and manage your risk of infection.
- EpiPath™ protects your identity and privacy. Only you control your information. No entities, systems, or devices, including EpiPath™ and Zocial™, can access your information because it’s encrypted by Zocial’s Blockchain.
EpiPath™ preserves your anonymity.
- It does not use telecom SIM card tracking where personal data and activities on your mobile phone may be obtained and shared.
- In addition, your mobile number is never stored and is never used for any tracking purposes.
- EpiPath™ is built on the premise of uncompromised security. Along with Blockchain, EpiPath™ uses your Bluetooth power range anonymously and GPS to detect your location and range of those who have tested positive for Covid-19 or symptomatic. You are assigned a unique and random Bluetooth ID that acts as your public key used in broadcasting beacons to other users on the app, thereby ensuring your anonymity. This identifier is further encrypted and made anonymous using the most secure cryptographic techniques. In addition, the private key is also encrypted and is only accessible by you. No one, not even EpiPath™ or Zocial™, can access your information.
- EpiPath™ offers a health-focused information portal that expands beyond contact tracing services, which includes News, Chat, Social Media, and Covid-19 Dashboard with Health Status questionnaire where you can report and update. You can get verified news, connect with your social network, and seek advice - all in one place.
- For developers around the world, a free open source SDK will be available through GitHub at https://github.com/zocial-io/epipath. Developers can customize for local languages and other special features with the SDK.
Why would I need a health information portal with contact tracing?
- The EpiPath™ health-focused information portal keeps you engaged and updated with reputable COVID-19 related news, live TV streams, social media, and chat. You can get the latest news, connect with your social network, and seek advice – all in one place.
The EpiPath™ Dashboard helps you assess your level of risk by quantifying your amount of social exposure and alerts you when you’re too close. The map, based on public data, keeps you aware of what’s happening in your location as well as places to avoid. The dashboard also includes a Self Report questionnaire where you can report and keep your health status up to date.
What is contact tracing?
- Contact tracing is the process of identifying persons who may have come into contact with infected persons (the contact) and trace point of contact by determining the location and range of those in close proximity over a short duration of time.
By tracing the contacts of infected individuals, any person within proximity will have knowledge of a possible risk of infection. Actions can then be taken under the guidance of local health organizations. Treating the infected and tracing their contacts aims to reduce infections in the population.
Why do I need a contact tracing application?
- Contact tracing has been proven to help fight the transmission of Covid-19. When communities come together, they form a network of users who provide critical information. Such information includes indications of where hot spots have formed, if you’ve been in the proximity of an infected individual and at risk, so you can take appropriate actions and allow the public health organizations to better serve their communities by knowing where to pour resources.
Oxford researchers concluded “that viral spread is too fast to be contained by manual contact tracing, but could be controlled if this process was faster, more efficient and happened at scale. A contact-tracing App which builds a memory of proximity contacts and immediately notifies contacts of positive cases can achieve epidemic control if used by enough people.”
What is Blockchain?
- Blockchain is a decentralized, distributed, digital ledger that is used to record transactions across many computers or nodes. Records are immutable and cannot be altered retroactively without the alteration of all subsequent blocks and the Consensus of the network.
Blockchain uses cryptography to encrypt and secure transactions between users. Each user in a transaction has a public and private key to unencrypt and access the data, which provides security and protection from hackers.
How will blockchain protect my privacy?
- EpiPath is built on Zocial’s IBA™ blockchain technology to protect user privacy. Your phone and other phones with the EpiPath™ app installed exchange anonymous Bluetooth identifier beacons, so you remain anonymous on the network and your identity is kept private. This identifier is encrypted and made anonymous using secure cryptographic techniques and stored in the blockchain. The blockchain will also assign you a private key that only you can use to unencrypt and access this information.
In addition, EpiPath will only ask for your mobile number for OTP authentication. Your mobile number is never stored and is never used for any tracking purposes.
What is the difference between SIM card versus Bluetooth tracking?
- Telecom SIM card tracking can access personal data and record activities on your smartphone, which can then be obtained and shared. Short-range Bluetooth communication establishes a voluntary contact-tracing network to track the proximity of others within range. Encrypted Bluetooth IDs are used as beacons to broadcast to other users on the app, so your mobile number or identity is never displayed.