A new smartphone application has been launched by the government for people who are under quarantine orders. They will be able to verify their whereabouts by sending selfies, as well as get access to various forms of support during their isolation.

Under strict measures introduced in response to the coronavirus pandemic, large numbers of people in Poland are legally obliged to quarantine themselves at home for 14 days. This includes all Polish citizens and residents returning from abroad as well as those who have come into direct contact with people infected with COVID-19.

As of yesterday, the total number quarantined stood at 28,440, but this figure is likely to rise sharply. Those caught not complying with the orders face a fine of 5,000 zloty (€1,100).

Until now, police have been used to monitor compliance. But now an app launched by the Ministry of Digital Affairs allows those under quarantine to prove they are staying at home.

The app is only available for download by people required to undergo quarantine. After registration, they must take a control photo of themself. Thereafter, they will receive one or more text message per day instructing them to send a new selfie within 20 minutes.

The system will then use geolocation and facial recognition technology to ensure that the person is at the address provided when entering quarantine. Failure to respond within 20 minutes triggers a reminder, and if this in turn gets no response, the police are notified.

“We will be sending requests for photos ‘by surprise’,” said digital affairs minister Marek Zagórski. “The idea is exactly the same as with unannounced visits from police officers.”

“The data of people ‘checking in’ from quarantine are safe; they won’t be collected or stored unnecessarily,” added Zagórski, who said that the app would benefit both those under quarantine and the authorities responsible for monitoring them.

In addition, the app will provide users with fast access to essential information and allow them to contact local social assistance centres requesting medication or food. The ministry also promises that additional features will be added in the next few days.

For all of our coverage of the emergency in Poland, see our constantly updated archive of stories here.

Main image credit: Ministerstwo Cyfryzacji


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