Since most people probably already carry a smartphone with them wherever they go, technology plays a huge part in helping governments do contact tracing. Apple and Google previously launched a joint system that would help with that, but the agencies still had to create their own app built on that. Now the two tech giants are launching Exposure Notification Express for those that don’t have the technical know-how to create their own apps. The government agencies will now rely on their system as well as the technical prowess behind it.
What Google and Apple initially created was for smartphones to exchange and record Bluetooth identifiers when they’re in close range. This way, if a person tests positive, they can just transmit a list of people they had close contact with and they can get tested as well. This is part of the exposure notification system that they created, although of course, you would have to voluntarily enable permissions on your device. The phones will also periodically download a list of all nearby that have tested positive and if it matches yours, you will be prompted to contact health authorities. All of it is done anonymously of course.
9 to 5 Google shares that currently, you still have to download an official app from your local health authorities to be able to use this system. There have been only 20 countries and regions that have adopted it so far since not everyone can hire app developers or have in-house people capable of doing so. And so Google and Apple have now announced Exposure Notification Express which will allow health agencies to submit a configuration file with the basic information needed and the two companies will do the rest of the technical work.
The information that the agencies will need to submit include how or when notifications will be triggered since there are different health standards for each state or each country. They will also need to inform Google and Apple what are the next steps a person must take. Of course they will also need to give their agency’s logo and the other text that would appear to users of the app. Google will then create an app based on all that information and users in that country or region will get a notification that a local app is available.
If you do then decide to install it, you’ll have to enable additional permissions and then the workflow will most likely be similar to how the Exposure Notification originally works. The express version will be launching later this month for Android devices running version 6.0 and above. Washington DC, Maryland, Nevada, and Virginia will be the first areas to launch.