Google and Apple join hands to help governments trace COVID contacts

Apple and Google have announced a partnership which will see the two tech giants build a solution that will allow the transmission of data for tracking Coronavirus and contact tracing. This will use the Bluetooth low energy technology built into modern day smartphones.

It means governments and health agencies will be able to better identify individuals via a voluntary contract tracking mechanism, which will collect data of phones that have been in close proximity with each other. This announcement comes at a time when the world is struggling to contain the Coronavirus, or COVID-19 pandemic.

This will work in two stages.

The first are the APIs which will be available on iOS for iPhones and Android for a variety of Android-powered smartphones. Apple and Google say that they will roll out the application programming interfaces (APIs) for this on iOS and Android respectively by mid-May, which will allow health authorities to use apps that users can opt-in for to collect data.They say these official apps by health agencies and governments will be available for download via the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

The second stage would be where Apple and Google will work on a Bluetooth-based contact tracking platform which will also be used by apps made by health authorities to track user proximity data.

“Since COVID-19 can be transmitted through close proximity to affected individuals, public health officials have identified contact tracing as a valuable tool to help contain its spread. A number of leading public health authorities, universities, and NGOs around the world have been doing important work to develop opt-in contact tracing technology,” says Apple in an official statement.

Privacy remains an important aspect of these new contact tracing tech.

“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 and Google say in a joint statement.

Coronavirus, COVID-19 can be transmitted through close proximity to affected individuals. It has become a big worry for governments, health workers and public health organizations to identify individuals who may have come in contact with someone who has been confirmed as infected by the Coronavirus.

The contact tracing tech becomes an incredibly valuable tool tin helping identify these individuals, which would allow health agencies to quickly reach out to them for testing, monitoring, quarantining and treatment. This system level support in smartphones that people use will allow wider support base as more people will opt-in.