Android, iPhone Add COVID-19 Exposure Notifications. Here’s How it Works

COVID-19 Exposure Notifications
Image Courtesy Pocket Lint

Google and Apple have added the COVID-19 Exposure Notifications option on both iOS and Android as a background update. In a blog post a few months ago, the two companies said they would both adopt this contract tracing technique. The feature is now available in Kenya.

How Do COVID-19 Exposure Notifications Work?

The technique will be used by public health authorities to contact and give guidance to anyone who may have been exposed to a person who has contracted COVID-19. This will all start with COVID-19 Exposure Notifications on your smartphone. They will enable contact tracing apps to send you a notification if you’ve likely been exposed to the disease.

If you check your smartphone under ‘Google Settings’ for android and ‘Privacy, then ‘Health’ for iOS, you will see this feature. The feature is to be complemented with an app but as of now, it’s on standby because there is no app yet.

Contact tracing apps will be developed by your local public health authority, not by Google or Apple. Google says.

Maybe we will use the one developed by the JKUAT student. Read more about it here.

What Happens When We Get The App?

When the Kenyan government develops the app, here’s what will be required of you;

  • If you have COVID-19, you may share that info with the app to help alert the people you’ve been in contact with.
  • If you’ve been exposed to someone who has shared they have COVID-19, the app will notify you and give you further instructions.

When you turn on Exposure Notifications your phone shares random IDs with other nearby phones have turned on the Exposure Notifications System. The details shared include date, duration and signal strength associated with exposure.

To help ensure these random IDs can’t be used to identify you or your location, they change every 10-20 minutes. Your phone and the phones around you will work in the background to exchange these privacy-preserving random IDs via Bluetooth. You do not need to have the app open for this process to take place.

Your phone periodically checks all the random IDs associated with positive COVID-19 cases against its own list. It’s important to note that the random IDs are automatically deleted after 14 days. If you have COVID-19, when you share your random ID, the app will notify others anonymously.

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