Like me, you may have recently seen posts on social media regarding the cell phone outage on June 15, 2020 stating the outage was purposely created to install a Covid-19 Tracker onto your smartphone; this is not the case. You may have experienced outages for calling and texting which T-Mobile states the disturbance was caused by a ‘failed circuit’ in their southeast region.
However, if you have updated your mobile devices to the latest versions as of May 2020, you may have noticed that a Covid-19 Exposure Tracker has been installed — on Apple IOS, click on Settings > Privacy > Health – on Google, click on Settings > google option and you should see an Exposure Notification at the top.
Apple and Google had announced plans to build the Covid-19 Tracking into their respective operating systems in April of this year and this feature was released in May with their respective updates.
Although there is now a section for Covid-19 Exposure notifications, you will have to manually download an app from your local public health organization to receive said notifications; without downloading an authorized app, the feature is disabled and will not work.
There will not be one centralized app to download for all of the US; each state’s public health authority will decide to use this exposure tracker and they will have to create their own app which will have to be integrated with Apple and Google APIs (Application Programming Interface). This API, which is essentially an integration toolkit, will work with the smartphones’ Bluetooth which can keep track of whether or not the owner of said smartphone came in contact with another person who has already tested positive or later tests positive for Covid-19. It will also be up to the person who receives a notification if they choose to be tested or not. Bluetooth has a range of approximately 30 ft. and both Apple and Google claim this system will not encompass tracking user locations or collecting any identifying info or data which is stored on a server.
Photo by Mika Baumeister
The only states as of June 30 who are interested and willing to participate in using this feature are Alabama, South Carolina and North Dakota.
So, As of July 5, 2020, you should not be afraid of the exposure notification because while the API is installed with the latest version update, it is downloaded and disabled, you will also have to download an app from your local governments public health organization, when created, and allow Bluetooth access for this feature.
You can check with your local government public health organization to find out if they will be participating with exposure notifications.
This may be the way to get back to some normalcy for some people in this ever-changing world we live in today, or not. To be continued…
Account Executive at UOTech.co
Elizabeth Hilton is Account Manager at UOTech.co. She has also been a member of the Massapequa Park Lions Club for 10 years which has raised and donated money through fundraising two sponsor dogs for the Guide Dog Foundation in Smithtown. She has helped other blind / visually impaired persons with the latest computer technologies to mainstream their lives.
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