How Apple and Google are Tackling One of the Toughest Parts about Tracking COVID-19

BY CYBER POLE | Updated April 13, 2020

In the race to find the cure from COVID-19, prevention still stands the best way to stop the spread of this dreaded pandemic. Technology giants such as Google and Apple have joined together to bring a viable solution against the fight. However, tracking of COVID-19 is a herculean task but these technology titans are not behind anymore. When the world is locked down, young minds are using their skills to counter the problem. Moreover, both the rivals have come together making it the most significant collaboration in history. Both of the companies are going for the technology developed from Bluetooth chip widely available in smartphones.

The officials state that the new system implements short-range Bluetooth communication. This can establish contact-tracing network further allowing the flow of extensive data on mobile phones that have been closely associated with other phones. Likewise, the app will allow users to be connected with health staffs where each member can report about COVID-19 related issues. i.e. diagnosis, treatment and discharge.

Both the tech companies Apple as well as Google plans to introduce a pair of iOS and Android by mid-May, therefore, ensuring health authorities get a proper implementation of the system. However, users need to download the app to get notification of contact-tracing. Once the API completes, these companies plan to work on tracing functionality under the operating system which will be available in the market.

Bold actions like this will help everyone in diminishing the infection. However, Bluetooth based application faces three of the most common issues,

  • Downloading the app
  • Non-reliability of Bluetooth signals
  • Less effectiveness

These are a few of the challenges that these tech companies face in the long run. Now, let us see how these companies plan to implement their strategy. Adoption being the primary issue when handling the API, Apple states that on updating the latest version and opting contact tracing API, phones will be sending Bluetooth signals and accepting record signals thus retroactively performing. When you download a public health app, you will get the feature of “proximity events” from the past two weeks.

The centralised API system from Google and Apple offers a valuable opportunity for a public health organization that faces the challenge to trace the suspects. Meanwhile, this system will work beyond the jurisdiction across the world. However, privacy will be a big concern here. Although its functionality is beyond our imagination, however, only tech giants like Google and Apple can achieve it.

Application of Bluetooth signal

A strong Bluetooth signal covers a range of about 30 feet much wider than the fitting distance, i.e. 6 ft whereas the signal is binary, raising concern but, Apple is still investigating the matter deciding the duration of proximity. As most of the countries are trying their best to tackle the situation, a passive system can inform individuals about potential exposure which could further reduce the spread.

In addition to that, experts suggest manual contact tracing with effective coordination from the local authority, health staff supported with timely data sharing should be currently the viable solution.