The Government of Canada has shared a new video detailing how the COVID Alert iOS and Android app works. The app is based on Apple and Google’s Exposure Notification API, which allows Bluetooth to work in the system background on devices, to exchange anonymous “handshakes.”
The two-minute video below from the federal government does a pretty good job of explaining how COVID Alert works to the average person.
“The app uses Bluetooth to exchange random codes with nearby phones. The code is a randomly generated string of digits and letters that changes every 5 minutes, so it cannot be used to identify you,” explains the video.
“The app does not have access to your name or address, or your phone’s contacts, your location, or your health information,” continues the narration, which are important points to note about COVID Alert.
The video goes on to say, “If someone you’ve encountered later tests positive for COVID-19 and uploads to the app a one-time key they received from their healthcare authority, you’ll be notified that you may have been exposed.”
“If you test positive for COVID-19, you can upload your one-time key from your healthcare authority. The app will then notify the people you’ve encountered, without revealing your identity,” details the video.
The government concludes, “Using the app is one more thing we can all do to help limit the spread of COVID-19, in addition to washing our hands, keeping 2 metres apart, and wearing a non-medical mask or face covering when it’s difficult to maintain physical distancing.”
“The more people who use the app, the better we can contain COVID-19,” adds the final message of the public service announcement.
In related news, Alberta said it would sign onto COVID Alert and ditch its ABTraceTogether app, while in early September, Newfoundland and Labrador are expected to launch support for the app.
The federal government previously said it will spend up to $10 million as part of a public awareness campaign for COVID Alert.