The technology rivals of all time, Google and Apple, are surprisingly collaborating to fight the COVID-19. This effort has been planned to create a contact tracing tool to determine an individual’s exposure to the virus. The contact tracing tool is helpful for the Government and public authorities to track the spread of virus. The contact tracking tool works by identifying and “following up with” people who have come into contact with the virus affected person. The project consists of two phases. The first phase of the project is an API that public health agencies can integrate into their own apps. The second phase is a system-level contact tracing system that will work across iOS and Android devices on an opt-in basis.
How it works?
A quick example of how a system like this might work:
- Two people happen to be near each other for a period of time, let’s say 10 minutes. Their phones exchange the anonymous identifiers (which change every 15 minutes).
- Later on, one of those people is diagnosed with COVID-19 and enters it into the system via a Public Health Authority app that has integrated the API.
- With an additional consent, the diagnosed user allows his anonymous identifiers for the last 14 days to be transmitted to the system.
- The person they came into contact with has a Public Health app on their phone that downloads the broadcast keys of positive tests and alerts them to a match.
- The app gives them more information on how to proceed from there.
What about privacy?
Privacy is always a questionable parameter. In this case, it might be an exception considering the fact that both the companies seem to give enough importance for transparency and privacy. There is zero use of location data, which includes users who report positive. This tool is not about where affected people are but instead whether they have been around other people.