The coronavirus infection, which has kept the entire civilized world at bay since the end of winter, has not yet been defeated and continues to take our lives and health from us. Somewhere more, somewhere less, but in general the situation continues to be quite dangerous. Therefore, Apple and Google came up with their own system for tracking patients with coronavirus, which they are going to implement in smartphones running iOS and Android. As a result, it will turn out, if not to defeat the disease, then at least to take the situation under control, which means, to get, albeit a small, but advantage.
Apple and Google create a tracking system for COVID-19 patients, but they themselves will not receive this data
The coronavirus patient tracking system in question will operate on the basis of Bluetooth Low Energy technology. Companies have relied on it because of the high level of energy efficiency. As you know, the Bluetooth LE module can send signals for a month even with a completely discharged battery. This will reduce to a minimum the impact of the system on the autonomy of compatible devices, because it will have to record all cases of intersection of users with each other, so that if one of them is diagnosed with COVID-19, notify everyone with whom he contacted.
How Android is tracking users
The system will mark those users who have been in contact with patients with coronavirus
Despite the fact that Apple and Google limited themselves, in fact, to only stating the fact of launching their own tracking system and mentioning Bluetooth LE as its basis, this week the companies decided to clarify the situation a little to give users have at least a rough understanding of how their latest development will function. Apparently, to make it more interesting, both Apple and Google shared different information, combining which we got a more or less clear idea of what awaits us.
The principle of the tracking system will be directional, not generalized. In other words, it will not record the devices of everyone who passes by you, but will only track cases of direct contact. For example, when two people talk to each other for 10 minutes or so. At this point, the Bluetooth LE beacons in their smartphones will exchange signals containing unique identifiers, which will later serve as a kind of return address. It is for them that users will be notified that the one with whom they contacted was infected with the coronavirus.
How to report coronavirus disease
Soon a special application will be released, where you can report the detection of a coronavirus disease
Contact data will be stored for a limited time equal to the incubation period of coronavirus infection, that is, 2 weeks. If during this time none of those with whom the user has contacted becomes infected with COVID-19 or, which is also important, does not report his infection in a special application within 14 days, the fact of the meeting will be deleted. However, if an infected person downloads this application (will be released later) and clicks on the 'I am infected' button, the system will automatically analyze the list of all users with whom he contacted and notify them of the need for testing.
The notification that will come to those who have been in contact with a patient with coronavirus will be quite detailed. It will not contain information about who exactly was the carrier of the disease, but it will give detailed instructions on how to behave. Obviously, there will be an indication of mandatory self-isolation, a call to doctors to take biomaterial for analysis and other advice on behavior in this situation. At the same time, advice will remain only advice and no one will follow their implementation. Moreover, if desired, the user can refuse to participate in the program and no one can force him to do so.
When will the update come out Android
A wide range of users will receive an update with a tracking system
The distribution of the update containing the tracking system will begin in mid-May. But if in the case of iOS it is released as part of a system update, then Android – smartphones will receive it as a result of updating Google Play services. This will ensure the widest possible coverage. However, the system will work only on devices with Android 6.0 Marshmallow and newer. All other versions of the operating system will remain out of work, although even Android Nougat and Android KitKat continue to be popular today, no matter how Google tries to hide it.
Is it safe? Well, Apple, which is known for its extreme commitment to privacy, claims to be completely safe. By the identifiers that will be exchanged between the devices, it will not be possible to calculate either the COVID-19 carrier, or even the place where the virus was transmitted. And so that the authorities could not use this information, Apple and Google came up with encrypting it and storing it strictly on users' devices. However, there is a small nuance here. Some data will still be processed outside the devices, and companies are ready to give their processing to governments, which has already found a negative response among liberal-minded citizens.