Report: Apple, Google tracking coronavirus spread with phone apps – SILive.com

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STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Two technology giants, Apple and Google, announced Friday that they will work together to provide tools to help track the spread of the novel coronavirus.

According to a report by CNBC, Apple said both companies will launch developer tools known as APIs, which will be available in both the iTunes App Store and the Google Play Store. The APIs will enable interoperability between Android and iOS devices using apps from public health authorities.

Experts have started to call on the private sector to help follow the spread of coronavirus using so-called “syndromic surveillance,” a technique that can be used to track pandemics. In the United States, tech companies are well positioned to do it, since most people own a smartphone, the report said.

The companies will use Bluetooth technology to help governments and health agencies to reduce the spread of the virus. The press release announcing the partnership does state that user privacy and security are central to the design.

Apple and Google’s tools will enable app makers to use Bluetooth to let people know when they’ve come into contact with someone who has been diagnosed with coronavirus, a process called contact tracing.

Google’s website explained how this will work, stating that if you have a phone and you cross paths with someone who ends up testing positive for coronavirus, you may be alerted that you’ve come in contact with coronavirus. This is opt-in contract tracing, which means users will need to agree to be tracked if they want to participate.

Google says the apps won’t collect personally identifiable information or user location data and those who test positive are not identified to users or the companies. Apps will store location for about 14 days. The data will “only be used for contact tracing by public health authorities for COVID-19 pandemic management” Google says.

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