The coronavirus epidemic has turned into a pandemic. The lack of hindsight and visibility in the face of increasing numbers of victims and the overloading of emergency services has led to the lockdown of half the planet. This containment impacts and will impact all economies, but even more so the economies of developing countries.
A social crisis is to be feared, says Ludovic Le Moan, CEO and co-founder at Sigfox, but also a migration crisis with its share of victims and suffering.
This situation is terrible, but it should not cause us to panic.
On the contrary, it should make us think about the actions we need to take to overcome the crisis and to find global, long-term solutions.
We will be examining our dependence on China for the supply of medicines and other equipment necessary in the event of major health crises. The aim will be not to blame, but to understand the key factors for better management or planning in the future. It is important that we are aware of any biases so that we do not judge hastily, or start a witch hunt, while at the same time recognising the gravity of this crisis and its aftermath.
Tool for tracing contacts
One of the options mentioned for the management of the country reopening that is beginning is a tool that makes it possible to trace the contact between infected, virus-carrying and healthy people. In short, epidemiological investigations supported by technology that monitor the progression of the virus as close as possible to the affected person.
Apple and Google propose contact tracing systems via mobile apps. This functionality will record over time, day after day, the identities (IDs) of any other mobile phones nearby. This solution is however unacceptable because it is contrary to our democratic foundations:
These tracking measures will strongly constrain our liberties as it will give the internet giants direct access to all our comings and goings. It is essential to find a solution that responds to this problem, but that is independent of the technologies that already profile and track us greatly.
The question of respect for civil liberties is fully in line with solving a health problem, with which humanity will be regularly confronted. It is inconceivable, on our European continent, which has borne a heavy burden in the defence of its democratic freedoms in history, that two companies should alone aggregate our data on their platforms.
Need for independence
Therefore, the tools put in place must be mostly independent, and can only be activated during a crisis, as part of a conscious citizen’s approach.
The ozone layer protects the planet and humanity. It acts as a safety net against the effects of solar radiation, and we cannot survive without this natural protection.
What about our connected world? Can we rely on a back-up network, which ensures that we are always connected to each other, without distinction? (Manifesto for the introduction of the 0G standard, June 2019, Change.org)
The only way to give Europe, and the rest of the world, an alternative to collecting sensitive information, is to set up and implement a 0G network:
- A network entirely independent of the leading digital players, the internet giants and the BATX, conceived as a back-up network at any point on the planet.
- A universal, simple network, which could tomorrow play a decisive role in crises such as the one we are experiencing today, as well as in environmental crises. The ‘0G’ is designed to be resilient, consuming very little energy and covering the planet without discrimination.
- A network that relies on radio antennas spread across the planet, connected to servers by several IP links, including a satellite link to guarantee the feedback of information when nothing works on the ground, and to have energy autonomy at a temporary minimum. In addition to the terrestrial capacity antennas, satellite antennas must be added so that no square meter of the Earth is forgotten.
- In the end, 0G will be a borderless network without complexity, guaranteeing efficiency while respecting the environmental.
Sigfox has laid the foundations for a ‘0G’ network
An optimised network for the exchange of small messages, just like Twitter, is already available. Answering the need for low powered devices that communicate with others over the internet, Sigfox established the 0G network and invites, today and tomorrow, other providers of communication services to adopt the fundamental principles of ‘0G’. Networks designed to transmit high-speed data are not in competition with 0G, on the contrary, they are complementary.
Controlling tomorrow’s epidemics by being prepared today
The first lessons from COVID-19 show that it is necessary and important to track respiratory equipment, available beds, masks, hand gel and all other products used in the treatment of the virus. A ‘0G’ network has no equivalent in terms of efficiency in tracing products.
- In the COVID-19 crisis, 0G is used to trace medical equipment during its shipment, to transmit alerts from patients in certain temporary hospitals, to relay alarms detecting falls and or abnormal behaviour for isolated people.
- One solution to end lockdown and for future emergencies would be to provide each person with a low-power autonomous 0G badge for the duration of a crisis (epidemic or environmental). This badge should have a button for alerting or reporting a critical state. The badges could transmit the list of other badges encountered during the day by the 0G (with no geolocation).
- The production cost in volume of these badges should be a few euros. Strategic points such as shops, public spaces, etc. could be provided with an ID which logs access by any badges entering and exiting. A badge separated to a mobile, to be worn only in case of alerts, is a guarantee of independence and freedom while helping to curb the epidemic.
- Phones will also be able to collaborate in feeding information back to the 0G network, all it would take is a simple software update to make them 0G compatible. In such a case, registering the IDs of the badges that pass through the phones would no longer be a threat to privacy, as the mobile device manufacturers would not be aware of the relationship between the owner of the badge and the ID.
- It will be possible to create a tape that behaves like a seal to find out where a box of masks is, but also if it has been opened. This should be possible for a cost of one to two Euros per box. 0G is the way to deliver the information at the least cost, and do without polluting batteries.
A turning point for Europe
If Europe bets on 0G and develops artificial intelligence (AI) that aggregates the position of PPE (personal protective equipment) and any other sensitive objects, it can develop efficient platforms in the event of any crises, while also taking a leading role in the industrial transformation that is taking place today.
European digital sovereignty can, and must, come into being. 0G is one of the keys to writing the first page of a new global balance, where the human being remains at the heart of any mission.
The author is Ludovic Le Moan, CEO and co-founder at Sigfox.