When the coronavirus pandemic first started to spread out of China, each country had a different way of combating the disease. Some places closed their borders, some closed their borders partially. Some countries tested everyone, some tested those with symptoms. And others used a combination of methods to control transmission and spread.
Apple and Google
Three and a half months later, it’s becoming clear that perhaps the last method is the most effective. Luckily, America is built for data utilization. Two of the biggest tech companies in the US are coming together to track the spread of the virus. The way they do this is simple, via your phone. Apple and Google are planning on using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) transmissions to collect information on the people you come in contact with. Unlike with GPS, this technology wouldn’t be able to track your location; it’s simply “feeling out” the other phones around you. If you do test positive for coronavirus, the owners of those phones will be informed that they have been exposed.
This type of tracking is called contact-tracking. Right now, if someone tests positive for coronavirus, doctors will usually ask them to recall all the people and places they’ve been around in the last two weeks. This way is both inefficient and slow. For one, you probably won’t remember all the people or places you’ve been in or around. Most people barely remember what happened two days ago. And two, you will have to provide the contact info necessary and the hospitals have to alert the individuals or organizations.
Apple and Google are building this contract-tracking ability into the operating systems of the phones (iOS and Android) that are expected to be up ad running by mid-May. Along with testing as many people as possible for coronavirus, this technology can go a long way in helping the economy open back and allow people back to work.