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Engineers at Tecnun develop an algorithm to avoid unnecessary geographical confinement.

The algorithm is based on the fact that the possibility of contagion is related to the social contacts of individuals and not so much to the geographical area of residence.


PhotoPaulaBerroa/Carolina Nolasco (Telecommunication Systems Engineering student) and the researchers of the Mathematical Principles group of Tecnun: Xabier Insausti, Marta de Zárraga and Jesús Gutiérrez.

22 | 12 | 2021

To avoid geographical confinement using this algorithm, all that remains to be done today is to develop the application for mobile phones and for governments to show interest in its implementation.

Engineers at Tecnun, the School of Engineering of the University of Navarra, have developed an algorithm to avoid unnecessary geographical confinement and group individuals according to their social contacts and level of risk of severe covid-19 disease.

The work, recently published in the IEEE(Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) Access journal, a leading scientific journal on the advancement of technology, is based on the fact that the possibility of contagion is related to the social contacts of individuals, which, due to geographical mobility, are not necessarily related to the geographical area of residence.  

"Countries, autonomous communities or entire cities are confined on the basis of an average number of cases among the inhabitants and this puts a brake on all economic activities. Instead of confining entire geographical regions, the algorithm allows pandemic control measures to affect groups of people who have had contact with each other , depending on their risk of serious illness, thus reducing social and economic damage," said Xabier Insausti, one of the researchers from the Mathematical Principles group at Tecnun who led the work.

Importantly, the algorithm groups individuals according to the information available at the time of its execution, allowing for adaptive control of the pandemic. "Social contacts change continuously without even being aware of it, and the level of risk of serious disease also changes with the progress of vaccination," said Marta de Zárraga, a researcher at Tecnun, who is also a researcher.

Also, unlike other unsuccessful applications such as "Radar Covid", the privacy of user data is maintained . "Privacy concerns have been the biggest deterrent to installing pandemic control applications. In the case of our algorithm, it has been achieved that there is no need to store data anywhere or share it globally. The only thing that each individual knows is the epidemiological situation of the group to which they belong and this allows them to take the appropriate prevention or social distancing measures", said Carolina Nolasco, a 4th year Telecommunications Systems Engineering student at Tecnun and co-author of the study.

To avoid geographical confinement using this algorithm, all that remains to be done today is to develop the application for mobile phones and for governments to show interest in its implementation.

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