Back in April, Apple Pal and Google Announced That they teamed up to develop a Bluetooth low-energy based contact tracing system to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Last week – five months later – in New York, where I live, he launched an application called COVID Alert NY, which uses the system. Months later saw news of its development and a rollout of apps In other states, I was excited to have the option to use it myself. I downloaded it, dragged it to the folder on my iPhone – and immediately forgot about it.
Contact tracing during an epidemic like this is a major health care tool. It usually involves manual detective work: public health officials search for anyone who has had contact with someone with Covid-19 and warn them. They will tell you to test or quarantine in an effort to prevent the virus from spreading. The goal of an application like COVID Alert NY is to help automate that process. Applications Can’t change Standard, manual contact tracing, but in theory, they can enhance it by flagging in contact with the virus.
But apps like this only work if a lot of people download them. Governor of New York. An unscientific survey of Andrew Cumoz’s answers To tweet It will not inspire confidence about the app that it will lift. Dozens of people confirmed that it doesn’t really track the location. A few days after the launch of the application, COVID Alert NY was downloaded More than 300,000 times, But about 20 million people live in the state.
Anyone who is within six feet of me in a grocery store is also very unlikely to have a chance right now. But my apartment building has just posted a flyer about the app, and friends tell me they’ve heard about it through news alerts and Facebook groups. More people may start using it, but it is still difficult to know whether it will sign enough to affect the spread of the virus.
Despite that lingering question, the app itself is easy to use. It does a good job of explaining how the system works (via Bluetooth, which you should keep using the app for) and what information it actually collects (random codes between phones that have been within six feet of each other for more than 10 years). Peng does) min). If you test positive for COVID-19, the public health officer may ask you if you have the app and if you would like to give them access to the code shared with your phone. If you say yes, the phones will be notified that they may have been exposed to the virus and its effects That exposure date.
The application also gives a clear description of its requirements before the application asks. It wants to understand nearby phones and send notifications if your phone is in COVID-19’s list of codes. IPhone pop-ups where you agree to those permissions will appear on the screen only after you press “Next” to explain what is going to happen.
It’s less obvious in the app, though it’s based on Google and Apple’s system. The Apple Pal App Store description explains that relationship, but if you haven’t read through it, it will be easy to miss. If you knew that tech companies were building a contact tracing system, but were then asked to download this app from New York State, it would be easy to think that it was two different things.
I opened it a few times last week after downloading Covid Alert NY. I don’t need the app to do anything to pick up Bluetooth signals; It just hums in the background. It has a few additional functions, though it may be useful: it displays the state’s Covid-19 case numbers and percentage rates, and I can also verify that data by county. It also gives users the option to report any physical features of COVID-19 anonymously. Feature monitoring Public health officials are one way Can track Spread of the disease.
But I don’t fill out that form regularly because I don’t use the app regularly. There’s no way to set an alert to remind yourself to submit my features, which is probably a good thing. I do not required COVID Alert to see any notifications from NY. Ideally, it would be buried on the last screen on my phone for the duration of the epidemic, and I wouldn’t hear anything from it.
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