As governments and medical workers race against time to develop a vaccine and cure those suffering from the novel Corona Virus, Google and Apple have joined forces to develop a contact tracing technology to help combat the pandemic.
The two technology masterminds have announced a joint effort to come up with the use of Bluetooth technology to help governments from all over the world, as well as health agencies, reduce the spread with user privacy and security central to the design according to a press release given by the Companies.
Public Health officials have identified contact tracing as an important measure to isolate the virus as it is transmitted through close proximitues and this app seeks to trace the infected people and those who may have come into contact with infected individuals. This software is to be built into smartphones for easier access. Several leading public health authorities, universities, and NGOs around the world have been doing important work to develop opt-in contact tracing technology. In order to aid this effort, both Google and Apple have decided to work together and will be launching a comprehensive solution that uses an application programming interface (API) and operating system-level technology.
They plan to implement the solution in a two-step plan while ensuring that the strong
protections and user privacy are maintained.
As a part of the first step, in May, both companies have decided to release the APIs that enable interoperability between Android and iOS devices using apps from public health authorities. This will ensure that the official apps can be downloadable via both the Play Store and the Apple App Store.
In the second part of their strategy, both will work to enable a broader Bluetooth-based contact platform by working on building the functionality into the underlying platforms. This is a more robust solution than an API and would allow more individuals to participate if they choose to opt-in, as well as enable interaction with a broader ecosystem of apps and government health authorities. Privacy, transparency, and consent have always been of major importance to both companies and therefore will continue to maintain the highest level of confidentiality and transparency.
“How does it work?”
This tool enables those people who have been infected to notify the public health app which would send an alert to the phones that had come into proximity with the infected individual.
In grave times of crisis when even social distancing is not proving to be an effective tool and the spread of the disease is controllable, such an app would be a huge improvement and relief to medical officials as it would be easier to track the infected individuals.
They both have stated that they look forward to building this functionality in consultation with interested stakeholders and have agreed to make all information about their respective work to the other to help them analyze and work efficiently.
According to the press release by Apple, the company officials stated that, “All of us at Apple and Google believe there has never been a more important moment to work together to solveone of the world’s most pressing problems. Through close cooperation and collaboration with developers, governments and public health providers, we hope to harness the power of technology to help countries around the world slow the spread of COVID-19 and accelerate the return of everyday life.nolgy to help combat the pandemic.”
As both the rival companies come together to aid in the fight against the on-going crisis, it is clear that in these times the people and companies must look beyond rivalry and profits and focus on humanitarian measures to help however they can.