Tech Titans Empower Contact Tracing’s Digital Synchronization

Google and Apple deploy Bluetooth Low Energy tech for contact tracing platform
young people on their smart phones being tracked
(Coronavirus Today)

The world’s leading tech companies announced a joint effort to enable the use of Bluetooth technology to help governments and health agencies reduce the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, by modifying the privacy and security capabilities of their communicating devices, such as common smartphones.

Apple and Google said in dual media statements on April 10, 2020, that 'they will be launching a comprehensive solution to assist in contact-tracing.'

Contact-tracing is an established practice that involves determining 'who an infected person has been in contact with and trying to prevent them from infecting others.

A disease investigation begins when an individual is identified as having a communicable disease.

An investigator interviews the patient, family members, and anyone else who may have been exposed to the disease.

According to data sources, about 28 countries around the world have already launched contact tracing apps.

Furthermore, Apple and Google said they will work to enable a broader Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) transmissions-based contact tracing platform by building this functionality into their respective infrastructures. Users who activate this system can self-report if they’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19.

This is a more robust solution than a standard third-party API and will enable more individuals to participate if they choose to opt-in.

Official apps from public health authorities will also get access to this data. Unlike some other location methods, such as GPS data, this Bluetooth powered application will not track people’s actual physical location. 

It would basically pick up the signals of nearby phones at 5-minute intervals and store the connections between them in a database, said these companies.

If one person tests positive for the novel coronavirus, they could tell the app they’ve been infected, and it could notify other people whose phones passed within close range in the preceding days.

This new system's design is laid out in a series of documents and white papers, made available by Apple and Google.

This joint statement closed with the following comments: ‘All of us at Apple and Google believe there has never been a more important moment to work together to solve one of the world’s most pressing problems.’

‘Through close cooperation and collaboration with developers, governments, and public health providers, we hope to harness the power of technology to help countries around the world slow the spread of COVID-19 and accelerate the return of everyday life.’

One example of extensive contact tracing comes from the country of South Korea, with a population of over 50 million. 

South Korea was able to develop contact tracing plans in response to the spread of a different coronavirus, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome in 2015. This experience also prompted the revision of several laws to help improve the outbreak response.

Which set the stage for contact tracing during the SARS-CoV2 coronavirus pandemic of 2020. The new system incorporates patient interviews as well as the use of medical records, cell phone GPS records, credit card transaction records, and closed-circuit television.

An old-world contact tracing solution example was recently announced by Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker on April 3, 2020. This plan involves hiring an extensive number of people to manually track-down people who may be infected with the SARS.CoV-2 coronavirus.

Privacy advocates across Twitter fear that these government actions 'will take away personal liberties in the name of fighting COVID-19 and will never give them back.'

In the USA, the HIPAA Law, which was passed in September 1996, initiated national standards for various uses of health information, and related privacy rights. Which should mitigate these concerns, over the long-term.

SARS-CoV-2 outbreak technology news is published by Coronavirus Today.