COVID-19 tracker from Google, Apple readies for next phase launch

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Google and Apple are preparing to initiate the next phase of their COVID-19 Exposure Notification System.

The system, in its next phase, intends to alert users if they have come in contact with infected persons without having to download a particular application.

The two tech giants introduced the Exposure Notification System for the first time in May. They aimed to provide a technical basis for public health authorities around the world in order to set up applications for contact tracing.

Contact tracing is the process of identifying individuals who may have come into contact with an infected person and subsequently collecting additional information on those contacts.

How does it work?

The system does not collect or use the location from a user’s device. Instead it uses the Bluetooth feature to detect if two devices are near each other without revealing where the devices are.

If two people meet for more than five minutes, their phones exchange an identifier via Bluetooth.

The random IDs collected by the device are stored in an exposure log for 14 days. If one of these people later reports positive and the data reaches the application of the government, their contacts from the last 14 days are uploaded in the cloud.

The person who has come in contact with the now positive person will be identified as a previous contact and will be alerted on their phone.

The infected user can also share the random IDs of their device with the authorities so that other users who have come in contact with them can be notified.

All these activities are done without revealing the identity of the infected person to other users, Apple or Google as the entire exposure notification matching will happen in the device itself.

But the public health officials may approach people for extra information, such as a phone number, to get in touch for providing additional guidance.

According to the reports, the new version of the system is expected in two weeks. With the release of the new version, the users will get the notifications about exposure without downloading any other applications.