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How Apple and Google plan to check the spread of the corona virus using Contact Tracking



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Contact tracking can help public health officials slow the spread of the coronavirus.


Angela Lang / CNET

For the latest news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, see the WHO website.

In the fight against the Corona Virus Apple and Google teamed up to help public health officials develop apps that track the spread of the disease from person to person can be. However, the two Silicon Valley giants will not create the apps themselves. Instead, they are now providing the tools and resources that healthcare organizations can use to create their own contact tracking apps . Along with antibody tests and nasal swab tests, contact tracking is seen as one of the cornerstones that health authorities use to review the spread of COVID-19 and decide how and when to reopen their cities and regions as . We are waiting for a vaccine .

The goal of contact tracking is simple enough: to make a list of people in the immediate vicinity of an infected person and to use this information to keep exposed people isolated so that they do not spread the disease to others . However, the work involved in effective tracing is difficult, and Google and Apple are involved because modern contact tracking can use your phone and its Bluetooth technology – something Apple and Google know a lot about – to monitor who is being tracked are in close proximity

However, contact tracking also raises a worrying issue – privacy and security concerns – that Google, Apple, and healthcare organizations must overcome to make the tracking effective. Learn how to understand contact tracking and how it is used in the U.S. and around the world to slow the spread of the corona virus and reopen the economy. This story is updated frequently to reflect new information as the situation develops in response to COVID-19.

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What is Contact Tracking?

Contact tracking is a long-accepted – until recently little known – tool used by public health officials to identify people who may have been in close proximity to someone who has been tested positive for any disease – not just COVID-19.

In the old way, health officials interviewed an infected person to make a list of all the people who saw or spoke to the person and where they were contagious. The officials then contact everyone on the list to let them know that they have been exposed, what to do if they have symptoms, and how they cannot infect others.

To fight this particular coronavirus pandemic, our phones have the potential to do this tedious contact tracking for us and keep a list of other phones that are within Bluetooth tracking range, less than a meter from To you removed.

When a person becomes infected, health officials can notify those in the immediate vicinity while receiving contagious advice on symptom monitoring, self-care, and preventing the virus from spreading.

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If someone near you gets sick – even a stranger – you will be informed by contact tracing apps.


CNET

What Phones Have to Do with Contact Tracking

Creating a written history is tedious and time-consuming. Using the Bluetooth technology already in your phone enables a much faster response rate. How it works: A phone uses a public health app with Bluetooth to send a unique identifier to nearby phones and to use the health app installed to search for unique identifiers from other phones.

A simplified example: when we meet in the shop, my phone's ID may be 123456 and your ID may be 654321. Each phone maintains a continuous 14-day list of other phones that are near it. To ensure that the system does not notify you of unimportant contacts, e.g. B. about someone who drives past in a car, your phone only records unique identifiers that have been used for a certain period of time, e.g. B. 10 or 15 minutes from you within a few feet.

If someone tests positive, the doctor or the lab that performed the test provides a code to enter in the public health app. This code causes the app to upload the person's unique identifier to a public health server. The server then warns all people who are only a few meters away from the infected person that they must at least isolate themselves or possibly have themselves tested for the corona virus.

Isolation of people who may have acquired the virus is particularly important because many are asymptomatic but can still transmit the disease to others who may develop life-threatening symptoms and even die.

How Apple and Google Work Together

Using our contact tracking phones is most effective when using a large one Majority of us participate. Oxford University estimates that 60% of the population will need to use tracing phones to stop a pandemic, although lower adoption numbers will slow the spread.

Between the two companies, Apple and Google have almost 100 percent of the global mobile communications market – which would potentially offer the broadest platform for digital contact tracking. For this reason, the two technology giants said they would work together to incorporate Bluetooth-based contact tracking into their phones and help public health authorities use these features to create their own contact tracking apps .

Apple and Google will not create the apps. Instead, they provide the tools that health authorities can use to create apps that build a common foundation for iPhone and Android. The two companies have just released their first collection tools that government agencies can use to create their own tracing apps. According to the companies, 22 countries and a handful of U.S. states – including Alabama, North Dakota and South Carolina – have requested access to the tools. The two companies expect to grant access to more states and countries in the coming weeks.

Contact tracking is already used worldwide.

Countries like Great Britain Singapore Australia and others all over Europe have either already built up contact tracking apps or have work in progress.

Israel introduced a similar surveillance system in March, declaring that the mandatory system would exist for 30 days.

Will the use of the contact tracking apps be mandatory?

Israel's surveillance program is (temporarily) required, but Apple and Google are asking US officials to volunteer the contact tracking system, with participants choosing to operate according to the instructions from the ACLU.

Impact on Contact Tracking Privacy

For contact tracking to be effective on our phones, a majority of us need to collect a list of everyone and possibly share it with our local governments, which we have been close to for 14 days. For those who are already concerned about the loss of privacy and misuse of personal data by technology companies, granting public bodies access to even more personal data raises concerns about how responsibly agencies will handle the data . [19659016] Apple and Google have implemented privacy protection measures. Contact logs stored on the phone do not contain any personal information: when you are notified, you know that you have been in contact with a sick person, but you do not know who or where.

The companies stated that they encrypt identifying information to ensure that people cannot be tracked. To prevent you from being monitored by location, the randomly generated unique identifier that your phone sends changes every 10 to 20 minutes. The service is only available to public health officials.

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Both companies have announced that the service will be discontinued regionally when the pandemic ends . Apple and Google, as well as public health officials, hope that this will be enough to convince a skeptical population to install and use contact tracking apps on a large scale.

Contact tracking apps are a way to keep an eye on the patterns and movements of the coronavirus. Get a viable vaccine . For more information on checking the spread of the coronavirus, see COVID-19 Test . Also learn how to protect yourself how herd immunity can help and how to make your own face mask .


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