Canada today released a new COVID-19 contact tracing app called COVID Alert, as noted by iPhone in Canada. COVID Alert takes advantage of Apple and Google’s privacy-focused Exposure Notification API to alert people when they’ve come into contact with someone who has the coronavirus.
As with all COVID-19 contact tracing apps, COVID Alert uses Bluetooth to exchange random, anonymized codes with nearby phones, determining how close someone is by the strength of the Bluetooth signal.
If someone with COVID Alert tests positive for the virus, they can opt to enter that information into the app, and each person they’ve been in contact with will then receive an alert. COVID Alert collects no location information or personally identifiable data, and was built by Health Canada with the Canadian Digital Service.
COVID Alert has no way of knowing:
– your location – COVID Alert does not use GPS or location services
– your name or address
– the place or time you were near someone
– if you’re currently near someone who was previously diagnosed
According to the app’s description, provincial and territorial governments are working to support COVID Alert across Canada, and in some places, people can’t yet report a COVID-19 diagnosis. At the current time, health authorities in Ontario are distributing one-time keys to people who are diagnosed with the coronavirus, and other territories and provinces will be “coming on board soon.”
Even though the system is still rolling out in some areas, Canada recommends all Canadians install the app, which can be downloaded from the iOS App Store. iOS 13 is required for Exposure Notification apps, as iOS 14 does not support the API. [Direct Link]
Multiple countries have built apps using the Exposure Notification API so far, including Switzerland, Latvia, Italy, Germany, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Ireland, Croatia, and Denmark.
Several U.S. states are working on apps that use the API, including Alabama, North Dakota, and South Carolina, but no contact tracing apps that take advantage of the tool have been released in the United States to date.