Can Tech Warn You if You’ve Been Near the Coronavirus?

woman in mask checking her smartphone

Last month, phone moguls Apple and Google announced a project that will help the public’s well being. With tech advancements and cooperation across the two brands, they’re working together to keep the general public safe and informed about any potential close contact they might have had with COVID-19.

Through updated tech, users can log onto their smartphone and see if they have come into contact with anyone who presented coronavirus symptoms. The capabilities come complete with privacy for added personal protection.

Here’s How the Coronavirus Detection Apps Works:

With wireless radio Bluetooth capabilities, phones can connect to one another, keeping track of who each person was near at any given time. Then, if someone gets sick and tests positive for the coronavirus, other users can be notified of the potential exposure.

“All of us at Apple and Goole believe there has never been a more important moment to work together to solve one of the world’s most pressing problems,” they announced in a joint statement.

“Through close cooperation and collaboration with developers, governments, and the public health providers, we hope to harness the power of technology to help countries around the world slow the spread of COVID-19 and accelerate the return of everyday life.”

The Coronavirus Detection App in Action

To date, 22 countries have signed on to create an app including this technology in order to curb virus spread. With the inclusion of Bluetooth over GPS capabilities, Apple and Google said they can side-step privacy issues that require permissions associated with the location.

In contrast, the new app software doesn’t need to track a user’s location but simply lets them know if they were near someone infectious.

In addition, layers of encryption will keep all users anonymous; frequent beacon changes helps add to this layer of anonymity. The companies believe strong privacy protections are imperative in usage and will add to the tech’s impact.

App technology is slated to work on Android and iPhone phones that were manufactured in or after September 2015.

Updates have been made through the tech adaptation process, including changes that lengthened battery life and allowing for easier Bluetooth detection between phones.

COVID-19 Detection Tech in Use

Government officials have responded with mixed reviews to the virus-tracking announcement. Germany and some U.S. states have already provided their complete cooperation with the software. Others have called it a hindrance, due to a lack of available data that will be available to public officials. (This varies by state, based on their particular privacy laws.) Others, including tech lawyers, have mentioned concern over a potentially negative effect. Even if folks aren’t directly infected, they could receive too many false alarms, and notifications telling people to quarantine unnecessarily, they said.

The state of North Dakota is one of the first to come out with an official app, ProudCrowd. The free app is available to its citizens, and data will also be relayed to health workers.

Follow news sources in your state for announcements of available coronavirus tracking apps.

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