Apple and Google are Working Together to Slow the Spread of COVID-19
These two major companies are teaming up to create aide in the development of contact tracing applications.
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.
-Apple & Google
Contact tracing is a method that is used for notable diseases to pinpoint interactions and spread ability. Traditionally, when someone is diagnosed with a condition serious enough to be reported, that person would get a call or in person message from a health care worker that includes an in-depth conversation of how you contracted the disease and how it may have spread to those around you.
“This is a time honored public health activity that is done for a large number of communicable diseases…”
-Dr. Ryan Westergaard, MD, to CBS
How is Contact Tracing Being Utilized in COVID-19
Leading public health authorities, universities, and non-government organizations have been developing technologies that allow for opt-in contact tracing. When released, these technologies would notify you if you have been near or in contact with anyone that has tested positive for COVID-19. This technology would be distributed through an opt-in application, and all information that is sent and received from these technologies would remain anonymous to ensure privacy.
What are Apple and Google Doing to Help?
Apple and Google have teamed up to utilize Bluetooth in creating Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). APIs are computing interfaces that set guidelines for how different systems can use that technology. In this case, APIs are being used to allow cross compatibility of android and iOS devices for the applications that health authorities are creating. To put it simply, it will allow anyone to be able to receive and give COVID-19 testing information within these apps with user consent.
Apple and Google are creating this with privacy in mind.
Privacy, transparency, and consent are of utmost importance in this effort, and we look forward to building this functionality in consultation with interested stakeholders. We will openly publish information about our work for others to analyze.
-Apple & Google
All information that this service will send and receive will remain anonymous. Here’s how it will work:
Apple and Google are developing this in a two step plan due to the urgency of the matter.
“Given the urgent need, the plan is to implement this solution in two steps while maintaining strong protections around user privacy.”
-Apple & Google
They plan to release the APIs in May, putting the official applications created by public health authorities in both Android and iOS app stores. Then, in the coming months Apple and Google will attempt to broaden their Bluetooth contact tracing platforms by ” building this functionality into the underlying platforms.” (Apple & Google). This will create a stronger solution that will allow for interaction with a larger array of applications, and allow more users to have the option of opting-in.