Tech giant Google would now alert people when they are exposed to the pandemic COVID-19 or Coronavirus! With advanced health apps, the leading technology prime will let people know about it. Google, as well as Apple, are working on new contact tracing tools for public health organizations. These apps would also tell people if they’ve crossed paths or were near any person who later tests positive for the deadly virus.
The new COVID-19 tools available on iPhones and Android devices will use the Bluetooth feature to sense nearby smartphones. When a person tests positive, they can enter the test result into the application. After that, with the consent of the positive patient, anyone who’s been near them past 14 days will immediately get a push notification. It will read as: “You have recently come into contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Tap for more information.”
For example, if you meet any friend at a park, theoretically the respective phones will be close enough to exchange digital keys with each other over the Bluetooth feature. Those keys can then be used to trace back to everyone that the person has met over 14 days. If that person is infected with COVID-19, with their consent, they can upload the keys to the companies’ servers. This will allow them to notify everyone they have about their exposure to the virus.
Public health authorities across the world have resorted to contact tracing methods for years to interview infected people and to get a knowhow of who the patient has been in contact and give them useful advice as to what to do. The smartphone version of the applications would also help authorities to quickly lift social distancing constraints or respond effectively and efficiently to a new outbreak. “These official apps will be available for users to download via their respective app stores,” the companies said.
Participation in this method is voluntary. The effectiveness of smartphone contact tracing depends on n how many people opt for using the applications. However, privacy advocates warn that technology development is potentially invasive and raises crucial questions of how to safeguard people’s sensitive health information. On this, Apple and Google stated that there are precautions on that front to make sure the tracking data remains anonymous, and the applications also would not be permitted to track the specific location of the people.
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