There are ads popping everywhere now asking us to download the COVID-19 app. I’ve been hesitant so far but I finally decided to see how it works.
First things first, here are the links to download the app for iOS & Android users:
Once installed, the app explicitly specifies that it has no way of knowing
– Your location
– Your Name or address
– Your phone’s contacts
– Your health information
– The health information of anyone you’re near
So how does it work?
The app exchanges random codes, which you obtain once diagnosed positively, with nearby phones using Bluetooth and notifies you if any of the people you’ve had close contact with tested positive for COVID-19.
How does the app know if someone tested positive?
Unless you specify on the app that you tested positive, it has no way of knowing your health status. In order to do so, you have to use the one-time key you obtained when diagnosed agree to share this status with other people. Basically, it notifies anyone who has the app and has been within two meters of the sick person for more than 15 minutes within the prior two weeks.
I’ve had it for few days now and I haven’t had any reporting in the area, but this is not very helpful unless everyone around me has downloaded the app, got tested for COVID-19, and notified the app that they tested positive.
Should you download the app?
Absolutely! “COVID Alert” will not help end the pandemic but it’s useful and I think it has a lot of potential for tracing and helping to slow future pandemic or COVID-19 waves. Also and given its significant privacy protections, I don’t see why people shouldn’t download it.
Here’s a video explaining how it works: