Why Digital Contact Tracing Faces So Many Roadblocks

Using smartphones to track the location of people with COVID-19 infections is technically possible but it’s not happening in Texas or in many other places.

By Shelly BrisbinJune 4, 2020 10:06 am, ,

Public health experts agree that contact tracing plays an important role in containing the spread of the coronavirus. Traditionally, contact tracing is done by health officials who contact individuals in person or by phone. 

Lately though, technology companies have attempted to make it easier. Apple and Google created a tool known as an application programming interface, or API, that governments could use to develop contact-tracing apps. People who download an app to their phone could then be able to learn whether they had come in contact with someone who who tested positive for COVID-19. But it only works for those who have downloaded and used the app.

So far though, digital contact tracing apps haven’t gotten off the ground.

Tech expert Omar Gallaga recently wrote about digital contact tracing for the Austin American-Statesman. He told Texas Standard host David Brown that the Apple-Google digital contact tracing system hasn’t been embraced at the federal or state level. 

“The catch is that it’s limited to one official app per country using this API – or in the U.S., one per state,” Gallaga said. 

What you’ll hear in this segment:

– Why Apple and Google have faced some criticism about their contact-tracing API

– What Texas has planned for contact tracing

– How other companies are also working on digital contact tracing in Texas


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