An anonymous exposure notification tool has been discovered as the second wave of COVID-19 persists in the US and other regions.
The notification tool is said to be hidden in millions of devices, even without the awareness of the owners.
Namely Exposure Notification, the Bluetooth-enabled app alerts users if they are potentially exposed to a carrier.
This is made possible because of specific software built into Android and iOS devices by Google and Apple, respectively.
Apparently, the tool (or app) can only detect a potential exposure if the contact person’s device also has the tool installed.
Also, to get notifications; both you and the people around you must turn on (activate) the app to be visible.
Recall that the World Health Organization (WHO) had initially advised that people should stay 1 meter apart from one another.
Once a contact person is within the 1-meter range, the app automatically alerts of potential exposure.
As of the time of this publication, at least 100 million US residents now have the ability to get pop-up notification from local health authorities.
The app seems effective but is only limited to the US
Currently, there have been reports that the app is working effectively.
As a matter of fact, some persons tweeted about their experiences when they got exposure notifications.
A prominent case is when the governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam, alongside the first lady got diagnosed for the COVID-19.
Staff members of the governor who had the app active on their devices got notified about the potential exposure.
While the app has proven to be very efficient, it is only restricted to the US for now.
More so, other people in other countries with access to the app deal with the fact that only limited people use the app as well.
In other cases, not so many people are aware of the app. In instances where they are aware, not so many activated it on their devices.
If you reside in any of the locations below, then you can expressly make use of the app.
Also, the link in front of the various locations consists of specific COVID-19 instructions by region.
- Alabama: GuideSafe
- Colorado: CO Exposure Notifications
- Connecticut: Covid Alert CT
- Delaware: Covid Alert DE
- Guam: Guam Covid Alert App
- Maryland: MD Covid Alert
- Michigan: MI Covid Alert
- Nevada: Covid Trace
- New Jersey: Covid Alert NJ
- New York: Covid Alert NY
- North Carolina: SlowCovidNC
- North Dakota: Care19 Alert
- Pennsylvania: Covid Alert PA
- Virginia: Covidwise
- Washington, D.C.: DC Can
- Wyoming: Care19 Alert
Other states including Arizona, California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington have also shown intent to launch the services.
If you have an iOS or Android device, here is how to confirm that you have the app
Firstly, confirm if your local health authority has signalled the availability of the service in your region.
Once that’s confirmed, you must also take note that not all iOS models support the feature (app).
For iOS, iPhone 6S and newer models will work as long as it is running iOS 13.5 and above.
Android device, on the other hand, must be running on the AOS version 6 upward.
If you use any of these, go to settings, check for an option that reads “Exposure Notification.”
If the option is available on your device, make sure the availability alerts are turned on.
If your state is yet to adopt the service, you can get notifications once the system goes live.
The procedure is similar for Android users too.
All you are required to do is to check if the app is available on your device and follow through with other procedures.
Does the anonymous app interfere with user privacy?
So far, there hasn’t been any complaint of privacy invasion concerning the app usage.
From our discovery, we realized that the app was carefully built to help with privacy issues.
For one, the app uses Bluetooth connectivity and is not connected directly to any server.
With this in place, there is no possible way for the government or any third party to have access to users’ data.
More so, the Exposure Notification won’t be turned on without users’ express permission.
Also, the software that allows the app to work is essentially a default part of the recent iOS and Android updates.
As such, it won’t be activated unless you give your approval.
While the app is still restricted to selected regions, you can check the WHO web portal for COVID-19 guidelines.