Tech giants Apple and Google released a smartphone technology to notify users if they were exposed to the coronavirus. This long-awaited technology comes after the coronavirus pandemic has devastated the world.
Both the technology companies had announced a collaboration to leverage their platforms and technologies to trace the spread of coronavirus and contain it. It is reported that in April, at least 22 countries and many states in the United States of America are planning to develop mobile applications based on their software.
Most governments have tried unsuccessfully to develop their mobile applications to trace and counter the spread of coronavirus. A lot of these apps were not widely adopted owing to the technical problems’ users have encountered. Many of these apps are based on GPS tracking to find people’s locations have also raised privacy and accuracy issues.
Instead of using GPS, the software is built on Bluetooth wireless technology. This is used to detect proximity between devices and detect when someone has spent time or crossed paths with another user who tests positive for coronavirus.
Many public health agencies are waiting to adopt the technology developed by the unprecedented collaboration between Apple and Google. On the other hand, some governments believe that technology will be a hindrance. Public health workers will not have access to data owing to the privacy restrictions by Apple and Google.
The identity of the users will be encrypted by anonymous beacons that will change regularly. This software will be supported by all Android and iPhone models that are released since September 2015.
In a joint statement by the companies, they stressed that user adoption will be the key to success. They also believe that privacy concerns are the best way to encourage the use of apps based on Bluetooth.
The companies were clear in saying that they are not trying to replace contact tracing. The apps come with an “automatic exposure notification” system which can ease the process of contact tracing and slow the spread of coronavirus when interacting with asymptomatic strangers.
Many states in America are already charting out plans to use this technology. State officials from North Dakota, Alabama and South Carolina have signalled to use it as soon as the tech giants roll out the technology.
The technology solves some of the technical difficulties faced by governments like quickcross-platform detection and rapid draining of phone battery.