Today the federal government launched its COVID Alert exposure notification app for iOS and Android users in Ontario.
The app utilizes technology from Apple and Google, allowing anonymous Bluetooth “handshakes” between devices in the system background.
In a media briefing today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced he has downloaded the COVID Alert app himself, while he says the next rollout will be in Atlantic Canada, while the government is working with other provinces to get on board.
NEW: Trudeau says Health Canada has launched its COVID-19 contact tracing app.
Anyone can download it now – COVID Alert in app stores – including #NB'ers.
But it only works in Ontario currently.
Trudeau says it will be available "next" in Atlantic Canada.
No timeline provided.
— Adam Huras (@adamhuras) July 31, 2020
According to Canadian Digital Service, an arm of the federal government that developed COVID Alert, the latter has been vetted in a security review by BlackBerry, the Canadian Center for Cyber Security and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.
CDS says there were close to 6,000 beta testers across Canada, and also again reiterated how the COVID Alert exposure notification app works in detail on Twitter:
- The ExposureNotification framework was included in your smartphone’s OS update last month. It’s the engine that’ll power the app if you choose to download it. If you don’t choose to, the framework can’t and won’t do anything.
- After you install the app, you just need to make sure that your Bluetooth is turned on & your phone is with you if you go out. The app runs in the background and will not interrupt your activities.
- Whenever you’re near someone with the app, both phones exchange random codes every 5 minutes. The random codes change often and cannot be used to identify you.
- Codes will continue to be exchanged as you go about your day-to-day life. No action is needed unless you’re diagnosed with #COVID19.
- If you test positive, your public health authority will provide you with a one-time key to put into the app. It will upload the random codes your phone sent over the last 2 weeks to the Canadian server…If you agree to upload your random codes, only the codes go. Nobody will get any information about you, the time, or location you were near them. Every day the app will get a list of those random codes from people who have reported a diagnosis, via the server.
- If there’s a match between codes associated with a diagnosis in the server and codes from people you’ve been in contact with, your app will notify you of exposure and help you find out what to do next.
Currently, COVID Alert does not work with iOS 14 beta yet (but will when it’s released this fall), so in the meantime, you’ll have to go back to iOS 13.5 or higher if you want to use the app.
Are you going to install COVID Alert on your smartphone?