Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today revealed during his daily COVID-19 press conference the Canadian government is working with Apple and Google in regards to a contact tracing app, or Exposure Notification solution.
Trudeau mentioned how other jurisdictions, such as Singapore and Australia, have contact tracing apps running in the foreground, which can drain battery life. But Apple and Google’s next June update will bake the joint COVID-19 contact tracing solution into the mobile operating systems, allowing Bluetooth to be used anonymously in the background.
“We are working with a number of different partners on potential apps. We are working closely with Apple and Google on the update they will be bringing forward and it is our expectation that when the time comes for that to be released, we will be able to recommend strongly to Canadians a particular app that will help us manage the spread of coronavirus.”
Check out the full clip below:
PM @JustinTrudeau said the government is working with different partners on potential contact tracing apps and with Apple & Google on updates they are making. “We will be able to recommend strongly to Canadians a particular app that will help us manage the spread of COVID-19.” pic.twitter.com/LkyTmdPnq0
— Power & Politics (@PnPCBC) May 22, 2020
On Wednesday, Apple and Google released its COVID-19 Exposure Notification API for health authorities to implement into their contact tracing apps. This allows for apps to use Bluetooth in the background, instead of always leaving an app on in the foreground with your smartphone screen on.
Apple and Google’s solution is opt-in and anonymous, with both companies stressing privacy is preserved. The system does not collect or use location data from user devices and if infected with COVID-19, users have the choice of whether or not to share data anonymously, allowing others to be notified by health authorities.
“What we’ve built is not an app—rather public health agencies will incorporate the API into their own apps that people install. Our technology is designed to make these apps work better. Each user gets to decide whether or not to opt-in to Exposure Notifications; the system does not collect or use location from the device; and if a person is diagnosed with COVID-19, it is up to them whether or not to report that in the public health app. User adoption is key to success and we believe that these strong privacy protections are also the best way to encourage use of these apps,” said Apple and Google on Wednesday.
Apple and Google are limiting one API use per country to so apps aren’t fragmented and also increase adoption. The Exposure Notification API will not use a device’s location services.
The second phase of Apple and Google’s opt-in contact tracing solution coming soon will be built directly into iOS and Android, without the need for users to install a public health authority app using the API.
The Prime Minister also mentioned the government is making 3,600 contact tracing calls per day, seven days a week, while Stats Canada has trained 1,700 new employees to allow for up to 20,000 calls per day.