Google and Apple have announced the launch of the first public API (Exposure Notification API), which allows participants to create applications to track contacts with people infected with COVID-19 coronavirus infection. As TechCrunch clarifies, previously partners only offered beta versions of the API to help with development.
Thanks to the new system, which can subsequently be implemented in iOS and Android at the system level, users will be able to learn about potential contacts with patients. What is important, Google and Apple themselves do not create any programs, but provide only technical tools for developers, which they can integrate into official applications of medical organizations.
Participation in this initiative is purely voluntary: if a person finds out that he has been infected, he will be able to report it. In this case, notification will be received by all users who have installed a specialized program from the health service and who have been near the infected for a certain period of time.
Devices – iPhones or Android smartphones – will exchange data with each other via the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) short-range protocol. Unlike GPS signals or cell towers, Bluetooth does not allow you to set a person’s physical location.
Instead of tracking geolocation, the new system will receive signals from smartphones nearby at 5-minute intervals, and then write them to the database. To preserve the anonymity of the person who reported a positive diagnosis on COVID-19, not data from his device will be transmitted, but an anonymous key, the value of which changes every 15 minutes.
Health facilities will be left with the opportunity to assess the risk of COVID-19 infection in accordance with their standards. You can set a threshold, for example, for the duration of the contact or the distance through the new API. However, Apple and Google are strictly forbidden to use it in applications that also request access to geolocation.