The Province of Alberta has announced details on a contact tracing app to help combat the spread of COVID-19.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw made the announcement at the Friday afternoon press conference, stating that the voluntary app, ABTraceTogether, has been launched.
Apps like the one in Alberta have seen success in Singapore and South Korea, according to Hinshaw, and allow for the faster gathering of information as to where a potentially infectious person has been and who they have been in contact with.
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The app uses Bluetooth to determine if a user has come in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus. Alongside the app, contact tracing is done by contacting all people who a coronavirus patient remembers being in close proximity to.
“Our efforts to flatten the curve are proving to be effective, but we must continue to remain vigilant. Each one of us has a responsibility to do our part in the fight against COVID-19,” said Hinshaw in the release.
“ABTraceTogether was designed to help protect Albertans and prevent community spread by quickly alerting people who may be at risk. The more Albertans who use it, the better we will be able to protect individuals from being unknowingly exposed and possibly spreading the disease. Give it a try, and encourage your family and friends to do the same. By working together, we can tackle this pandemic.”
It was noted that the app does not track anyone’s geographic location, and that the government has contacted the Information and Privacy Commissioner about it, and no concerns were raised.
All data is encrypted and stored on the user’s phone for 21 days, and users must consent to share that data if they test positive for coroanvirus.
The only information that is shared in that situation would be the random ID of those identified as close contacts, ie within two metres of each other for a total of 15 minutes within a 24-hour period.
The free app is now available on the App Store and Google Play.