Controlling COVID-19 with Network Based Intelligence


Author: Sander de Jong, Global Account Director at Group 2000


It was widely spread in the news, many countries today use Network Based Intelligence to contain the spreading of COVID-19: “Israel - approves emergency measure to track mobile phones of people infected with coronavirus” - “Slovakia - plans law to allow use of telecom data to monitor quarantine” - “Belgian - telecom operators join 'data against corona' task force” - “Germany - Deutsche Telekom provides Robert Koch Institute with anonymised customer data to contain spread of COVID-19” - “Austria - A1 network data helps track spread of COVID-19”.

It is evident that the Group 2000 solutions like LIMA Network Protect, LIMA Interception, LIMA Location Services and LIMA Data Retention and Disclosure Management can contribute in a much wider perspective in serving communities than against illicit activities, for which they are mainly utilized today.

On a daily basis Telecom Operators process gigabytes of data to ensure their network is tuned in the best way to be as efficient, effective and reliable as possible. All aimed on being able to serve their consumers in the best way.

Depending on the provider and country in question, the stored information differs from information only applicable to the moment the subscriber is using the device and thus causing network activity, like making a call up to extended network information about mobile device cell tower handovers.

Law enforcement agencies make use in many cases of the subscriber billing records, which are stored by the operator within their Data Retention system. This can give them a retrospective understanding on who was at a specific location in the past, or to understand whereabouts of a specific subscriber. Prerequisite within the above drawn scenarios is that the subscriber generated network traffic, which was stored by the operator.

Projecting the above scenario on utilizing Network Bases Intelligence to contain the spreading of COVID-19 looks as follows: for a person which is tested positive on COVID-19 and the approximate contamination period is known. The Telecom Provider of the person in question could be approached with the request to provide an inside on all subscriber records with location information. This will generate a list that contains location, date and time.

The next step would be to ask all providers in the country to provide an overview according to the above list of the subscribers identities, such as their phone numbers, which were also registered to be present at the same moment and location as the COVID-19 infected person. Following to this a message would be send all identified subscribers to inform them that they were in close distance to a person tested positively on COVID-19, followed by the action that they are requested to undertake. Like advising them to have themselves tested or to be quarantined.

Group 2000’s portfolio solutions enables governing bodies to automate the aforementioned workflow and respecting the regulatory privacy principals to the largest extent possible.

This is a good first step, but the effectiveness is limited since it is coherent to the activity of subscribers and a location based on a cell-id that depending on the environment, rural or domestic, can affect a large geographical area. Only persons that generated a network activity at the approximate same time and location simultaneously with the COVID-19 infected person, are subject to be informed. All persons present at the location on the approximate time, but without network activity, are below the radar and will not be informed.

Group 2000 can help organisations by advising and building location based solutions using advanced technology, which can significantly increase the effectiveness of Network Based Intelligence. Our LBS+ platform is an enhanced Location Service Platform. The location information can be generated and stored periodically or on demand and with the right infrastructure in place at the communication service providers, in most cases enriched with a GPS accurate location of the device.

If this blog raised your interest and you would like to understand exactly what we as Group 2000 can do for your organisation, do not hesitate to approach us. It will be our pleasure to serve you.