Last month, Apple and Google announced a monumental partnership to mutually develop contact tracing software critical to today’s pandemic. When released, the APIs will aid public health officials to detect the potential spread of the virus and to contain it before getting out of control.
Recently, both companies have finally released the first phase of their software. The APIs will begin shipping to 22 countries on five continents who requested access to the software.
Because of the naturally controversial issue of privacy, Apple and Google have also released joint statements explaining the technology to concerned individuals. First of all, the technology is completely opt-in. By default, it is turned off; users have to enable the technology manually. Further, during this first stage, consenting users must download their location’s public health app, as suggested by officials.
How it works
Once the technology is enabled, the consenting device will generate unique and random Bluetooth identifiers which change every 10 to 20 minutes, ensuring true privacy. If a user tests positive for the virus and logs it onto their region’s health app, the system will alert the devices belonging to individuals that the infected users came into contact with. Potentially infected users will then receive alerts and instructions on how to proceed next.
The contact tracing system will collect information at least once a day, ensuring up-to-date schematics of the virus’ transmission across a location. Only public health authorities will have access to the information collected. Further, Apple and Google promise to deactivate the technology once the public health crisis is over, much like Lucius Fox in The Dark Knight.
In the coming months, Apple and Google will release the second phase of the technology. By then, the software will operate through the device’s operating system, doing away with a separate app once consent is provided.
Helping the world
After the API’s delivery, the system is now a region-wide prisoner’s dilemma. Interested individuals have to rely on other people consenting to the technology as well. Whether or not the general populace will consent to the technology remains to be seen. Regardless, Apple and Google have created revolutionary technology to aid in the public health crisis.
“Today, this technology is in the hands of public health agencies across the world who will take the lead and we will continue to support their efforts,” Apple and Google said.
Source: Gadget Match