Population monitoring has great potential benefits for disease tracking, especially during epidemics, and with a bit of technology it’s possible to do this in a comprehensive manner. Welcome to preparations for a 1984 Japan, where a pilot program will track the movement of 2,000 volunteers via GPS and identify when any of them crossed paths with others that later became ill with a contagious disease. No doubt the medical benefit of such a system on a large scale can save lives by the thousand. But once completed, it’s hard to ignore the possibilities of what the tracking system could otherwise be used for in the future.
From the Pink Tentacle:
The proposed system relies on mobile phone providers to constantly track the subjects’ geographical locations and keep chronological records of their movements in a database. When a person is labeled as “infected,” all the past location data in the database is analyzed to determine whether or not anyone came within close proximity to the infected individual.
The system will know, for example, whether or not you once boarded the same train or sat in the same movie theater as the infected individual, and it will send you a text message containing the details of the close encounter. The text messages will also provide instructions on specific measures to take in response.