We all are aware on the latest news on COVID-19. Still technology is always a wonder when it comes to fighting against this ongoing pandemic. Many tech companies have already started taken initiatives to stop the false spreading of information about the coronavirus and its recovery. Therefore, to add some more spice and on an aspect of public health concern. The two tech giants, Google and Apple have come forward to introduce a new contact tracking tool. Tool will help identify COVID-19 infected people who are in close contact with each other recently. The tool can be installed in both Apple and Android phones. It creates a small key log of a person’s recent contact list.
How does the tracing tool work?
The contact tracing tool would have your smartphone log when you meet someone in person. If any of the people whom you met, reports of COVID-19 symptoms to any public health authority. You will receive a notification on your phone, like an alert, about the diagnosis of your close contact. It is something like an exchange of contact information of whom you meet, anonymously, and automatically.
Once the software is installed on your phone. It exchanges tracing logs with nearby devices through Bluetooth, without revealing your identity. The phone will collect the entire contact log that you have come in close with and do not release it. Until you are tested COVID-19 positive and report about your diagnosis. Consequently, an internal server is maintained to collect these tracing keys from your phone. Also, when the report confirms that you are COVID-19 positive. All your contact keys will be moved onto the server.
The alert only informs that you have been infected to the people. Also, who were in proximity to you in the due course, without intimating that it is you. Meanwhile, it sends instructions to those people on how to act next to such conditions. This new contact tracing tool by two tech giants has been planned to be released by May 2020. Including a proper understanding of the privacy and security consequences of COVID-19.
Benefits of the contact tracing tool in detail
Rather than to say these are the following benefits, the tool is explained in detail here.
- New technology: This new tool brings in an API that integrates both iOS and Android features and allows communicating with each other. In another way, these two giant companies are partnering with public health organizations to develop mobile apps for new contact tracing.
- Software implementation: Both iOS and Android phones will receive this new tool as operating system update. Therefore, it becomes quite interoperable. Bluetooth enabled app functionality.
- Easy download: Although the app is going to create a new communication era between Apple and Android. It is also available in Google Play Store and Apple App store for free. When app is installed, it immediately receive an update to display anonymized keys via Bluetooth. Therefore, you do not require operating the app often.
- Flexible usage: The app prompts with two options instead of downloading the software update. Users can choose the option, broadcast your anonymized key. Otherwise, can opt by installing it as a complete software update, to ensure that the tracing tool runs 24 hours in a day.
- Better interaction: This app acts as an aid to find out the contact loop of Covid-19 infected people. Also, enables a strong interaction with a widened ecosystem of apps and government health authorities.
- Privacy and security: As the app anonymously discloses any information about the Covid-19 positive person. It ensures the highest safety and privacy of the victim’s information with their close contacts. Hence, the tool does not send the contact keys to servers immediately unless the source person is found positive.
- Authorized access: The report will not be accessible to everyone. Only appropriate public health authorities will have the access to such sensitive information.
Theoretical explanation of how the tool works
Google and Apple together have come up with a theoretical representation of the working methodology of this tool.
Assume that X and Y meet in person someday, and after 14 days, X has started experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. And reports to public authorities for taking the test. As X has reported for a test, the tool collects his close contact logs and keeps it on the phone. As well as, waits for the result notification. The report comes to X as positive and the app creates an alert as a notification to Y whom X met recently, without revealing identity.
Now Y receives a notification on the phone advising on what to do next. Y goes to a clinic and does a self-test to confirm the effect of COVID-19. When “Y” is tested positive, the tool runs the same process on “Y’s” phone. Also intimates other contacts that came in close with Y recently. This forms a large chain helping public authorities identify the number of affected people is huge.
What challenges do Google and Apple face with this tool?
Still, some people do not have a Smartphone and particularly Bluetooth features, to use this app. Monitor the crowd personally. Or they have to realize on their own to come and approach public authorities. Now not many would like to download a software update. Sometimes, it tends to create more bugs and the working tendency of the device becomes slower. In such cases, if they do not install the app, they become untraceable.
However, promotion plays a major role in making the public install this app. It is also a social responsibility of every human to stay healthy and keep others also healthy. Once launched, we need to monitor the implications of this app’s public usage.