Apple & Google Join Hands To Fight A Common Enemy: COVID-19
18 Apr, 2020
5 min read
The biggest tech news from the past week, current week and a few more weeks to come, is the COVID-19 tracker that Google and Apple are making. Personally speaking, this partnership is the stuff of dreams, if good things are coming out of it. These two companies are ahead of the game and collectively have unparalleled expertise.
Apart from that, they have the maximum reach in terms of mobile phones.
Let’s talk about the actual thing that they are working on.
Apple and Google are working on a contract tracing system that works with Bluetooth Low Energy Beacon technology. It means that your phone will have its own code, encrypted and dynamically changing, which will be exchanged with fellow phones, without any exchange of your personal data. There will be no masterlist of codes. Our phone stores these codes that it comes into contact within a log. Then, if a person tests positive for COVID-19, their own code of the last 14 days gets uploaded to a cloud where it will match with whichever code (phones) they came into contact with. This way, if you had come into contact with them last week, your phone will alert you of the same, so you can self isolate and eventually get tested.
They are, however, not making any app with steps on how to self isolate, how to get supplies in such a case, or to put in if you have recovered. It will only work at the base level of contact tracing.
Note: Biztech is making such an app and if you want a demo, please contact us here.
There is no universal app of this kind. But the contact tracing will be deployed universally.
There are chances that this will be deployed on a system level, so you can look for a software update on your phone for this. While software updates can be opt-in, I would urge you to opt into this one.
Medical staff all over the world is crushed with a huge number of patients. There are not enough hospital beds, PPE, N95 masks, and ventilators. Taking care of these things makes contact tracing less important. So if your phone automatically takes care of it, that would reduce the burden on medical workers and help contain the spread.
This technology is encrypted. They are not collecting location data. The technology wants to know if you have been exposed, not where you were while you were exposed. Now, of course, the intensity of exposure also changes from if you work together and therefore use the same facilities or if you come across someone in a market.
Usually, I would say that it is natural to be apprehensive of something like this, opposed to giving even your location history to your phones. But in a pandemic, I will happily throw my tech privacy out of the window, if it comes to that.
The lesser number of people that get infected accidentally, the more likely we are to handle this situation. Just like both of these companies give an option to wipe out location data that they take, we can hope that they give the option to opt out of this service after the pandemic is over.
It is most certainly an excellent initiative, and frankly, no one else can implement something like this for everyone in the world like Apple and Google can.
As I have said before, big tech is doing a lot to help fight COVID-19, and this is perhaps the most helpful thing to come out of. Thank you, Apple and Google.
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