Technology giants Apple and Google are collaborating in developing technology that would help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus by alerting people if they have come in contact with anyone suffering from COVID-19.
Apple is the developer of the operating system iOS whereas Google is the developer of Android. These two operating systems are used by a majority of smartphone users across the world.
The organizations intend to use a contact-tracing method, which would work by using the Bluetooth signals of a smartphone to establish whether the owner has been in physical proximity with an infected person long enough to have established contagion a risk.
If any one of the people subsequently tested positive for COVID-19, a warning alert will be sent to the owner of the original handset.
Both the organizations believe that their contact tracing method addresses privacy concerns as no personal information or GPS location data would be recorded.
The companies maintain that while the records of the digital IDs would be stored on remote computer servers, they cannot be used to trace an individual’s identity. Also, because the contact-matching process would not take place centrally, and rather take place on the phones, a individual will be alerted for going into quarantine without anyone else being notified of the same.
“Privacy, transparency and consent are of utmost importance in this effort and we look forward to building this functionality in consultation with interested stakeholders,” Apple and Google said in a joint statement.
“We will openly publish information about our work for others to analyse.”
While this initiative initially intends to aid third-party contact-tracing apps run effectively, its final goal is to eliminate the need to download dedicated apps.
Here is a model of the method that Google and Apple have proposed.
The two organizations intend to release these tools by May and, subsequently, plan to build them directly into the iOS and Android software so that more people can use them.
The CEOs of Apple and Google, Tim Cook and Sundar Pichai respectively, put up posts on social media to introduce this initiative.
Contact tracing can help slow the spread of COVID-19 and can be done without compromising user privacy. We’re working with @sundarpichai & @Google to help health officials harness Bluetooth technology in a way that also respects transparency & consent. https://t.co/94XlbmaGZV
— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) April 10, 2020
It certainly is heartening to see competitors collaborate to bring an end to the coronavirus pandemic. What do you think?
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