With Canada’s COVID Alert exposure notification app reaching 1.9 million downloads in two weeks, the federal government is encouraging everyone to download the app, even if they are outside Ontario.
Canadian Digital Services, which helps administer the COVID Alert app, explained this morning, “did you know it’s still helpful for everyone in Canada to download it now?”
“While Ontario is currently the only province where people who test positive for #COVID19 can receive a one-time key to enter into the app, outside of Ontario the app still exchanges random codes with other phones,” explained CDS.
According to CDS, there are two main reasons why those outside Ontario should download COVID Alert onto their support iPhone or Android device:
1. If you report a positive test, the app sends notifications to people you’ve been close to over the past 2 weeks. If you download early, the app will have already collected these past interactions.
2. If someone from a participating province who has the app travels, and is in proximity to you, you will still be notified if they report a positive test.
CDS says the federal government “is working collaboratively with each jurisdiction to roll out the app across Canada as quickly as possible.”
Newfoundland and Labrador and Alberta are expected to support the COVID Alert app next, with the latter built on Apple and Google’s exposure notification framework. Both tech giants recently updated their framework to allow it to work with similar apps from other countries using the API.
COVID Alert leverages Bluetooth in the background for anonymous “handshakes” between devices. No GPS locations are tracked and data stays on devices, instead of being uploaded to a central server. With a one-time code from a supported health authority, someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 can choose to anonymously alert others that were previously within two metres of contact for 15 minutes or longer.
“Every region has a different health care system so we’re making sure the service works for their different needs and yours!”, concluded CDS.
The federal government plans to spend up to $10 million to market COVID Alert and push people to download the app.