Apple And Google Team Up On Contact-Tracing Technology

The technology can be used to build apps aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19. But there are privacy concerns.

By Shelly BrisbinApril 16, 2020 12:29 pm, ,

With the number of COVID-19 cases still growing, it’s not always easy for health officials to determine what to expect next. Contact tracing – the practice of tracking down who else a COVID-19 patient may have come in contact with while they were contagious – is a laborious process. But two large tech companies might have found a way to streamline it.

Apple and Google recently announced a joint project that could help make contact tracing easier through technology they plan to release in May. That technology can then be the basis for contact-tracing apps developed by other tech companies.

Tech expert Omar Gallaga told Texas Standard host David Brown on Thursday that the technology harnesses a phone’s Bluetooth signal to find nearby devices within 6 feet. But he said Bluetooth technology has limitations.

“It can be a little bit flaky sometimes,” he said. “[Bluetooth] goes further than 6 feet.”

Also, Gallaga questioned whether people would be willing to voluntarily download an app that could potentially violate their privacy, and the privacy of others.

Plus, approximately 60%-70% of people would need to use a contact-tracing app in order for it to be an effective tool for protecting public health.

What you’ll hear in this segment:

– How the technology could help stop the spread of COVID-19

– Why the data collection necessary for a contact-tracing app to be effective concerns people

– How a contact-tracing tool could become a regular part of a phone’s operating system

Written by Samantha Carrizal.


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