Google and Apple Team-up to Alert Citizens of COVID-19 Cases Near Them

New York City has reopened the economy on June 8 and with loosening quarantine restrictions, inevitably more people will be going outside. The Coronavirus outbreak has killed just over 16,000 people as of the end of May 2020, in New York City alone. As the weather gets warmer in the city, inevitably more and more people are starting to go out and Apple and Google have teamed up to give people more peace of mind when going out. Combining their powerful databases they are creating a COVID-19 detection app.

Contact Tracing app Graphic. Credit to Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch.

The contact-tracing app is set to alert citizens if they are near someone who has the Coronavirus through their centralized databases exchanging a key code when people’s smartphones are in small proximity to one another. This is able to function through Bluetooth technology as smartphones exchanging data when users opt in to use the app. 

Users who utilize the application can update their status if they become infected with the virus to help further accuracy and not compromise the lives of the people around them. This is all done anonymously so the app will not disclose personal information such as your name to others. The application will send messages to the other phones you were nearby in the last 14 days alerting them that someone who you came in contact with recently tested positive for COVID-19. 

The rate of the Coronavirus cases has expanded out of the capacity that healthcare officials can handle so software engineers, governments, and public health providers are all helping to create this detection system to flatten the curve. 

Although all these people and organizations are coming together to create this app, Apple and Google have made user data privacy prominent as people’s information will not reach the hands of public health officials and the government. 

The effectiveness of the application sparked controversy among people as many factors play into making this detection system effective. Having a phone that doesn’t let you access the Apple App store or Google play store means certain people will not be able to download the application.

The application also works because of Bluetooth technology which can be easily turned off by users. Not carrying your phone and going outside while being infected with the virus might spread COVID-19 without the app ever being aware along with the vast amount of people that are asymptomatic. COVID-19 can infect you, but it has a symptom onset of up to 14 days making the virus undetectable and rendering the app ineffective.

With the rapid inclines and slow declines of the Coronavirus outbreak, it is essential that all powerhouse companies and corporations come together to stop the spread of COVID-19. Along with the factors that may detriment the application being 100% successful, it is critical to prevent the spread as much as possible along with giving people a safety measure when going outside.

The software design prototype and API have been shared with 22 countries and they have shared the software with public health officials towards the beginning of May. The companies did not state when exactly the apps will be available to download but it is expected in the next coming weeks. 

Sakshi Gondkar

My name is Sakshi Gondkar and I live my life through experiencing new moments and learning about new cultures to help me strengthen my understanding on what is life. I am passionate about expressing this through my writing using photojournalism and incorporating creative and opinionated writing.