South Korea’s swift action in flattening the curve in their country has been applauded worldwide. But many have been concerned by their methods. The South Korean healthcare authorities legally use cell phone data, credit card data and surveillance cameras to trace and track infection routes. The data is analyzed to match people who may have been in contact with infected people. A text message alerts the person that they have been in a hot spot area and gives them further information on next steps.
Apple and Google have partnered together to create a universal mobile API set for IOS and Android. This enables your data to be sent via BlueTooth notification systems to facilitate government level contact tracing. The first iteration will be to official public health apps and will eventually be embedded into the operating systems of all tablets and smartphones.
Last month, The Verge had a good article with a nice graphic and great links that describe the effort thus far.
Up until now contact tracing in the US has been a manual effort and very few states have considered the initiative, which has been considered by some as a way to reopen the economy faster.
Contact Tracing is a provocative topic. Digital surveillance just doesn’t sit well with people. But if the apps maintain anonymity for both the infected and those in proximity to be infected; this could be very useful.
I still have my reservations. Not because I don’t trust Apple and Google with my data. I think they already know more than I know about me. But with the amount of hacking and phishing and dubious dark web shenanigans we are all subject to; I’m not sure I want to open a door to that as an early adopter. Let’s see what those public health apps look like before I get all excited.
As of the latest IOS software update 13.5, the Exposure Notification API to support Covid-19 contact tracing apps from public health authorities will be delivered with its regularly scheduled update.
Google Play will be pushing it to Android compatible phones any time now.
The update does not enable the new feature by default. This is good. To enable it in IOS you navigate to Settings and choose Privacy/Health and finally Covid-19 Exposure Logging.
For Google, you go to Settings and find the new Covid-19 Exposure Notifications.
Let’s see how this pans out in a few months as we wait for the first versions of the new public health apps.
Until next time…