Apple and Google have joined forces to help people know if they have been exposed to COVID-19.

Apple and Google have joined forces to help people know if they have been exposed to COVID-19. The two businesses jointly created the Exposure Notifications System out of a shared sense of responsibility to help governments and our global community fight this pandemic through contact tracing.

The Exposure Notifications System on your smartphone will enable contact tracing apps to send you a notification if you’ve likely been exposed to COVID-19. Your local public health authority, not by Google or Apple, will develop contact tracing apps.

“We need as many tools in our toolkit as possible to stop the spread of COVID,” said Survivor Corps Founder Diana Berrent. “We have masks, we have social distancing and that’s it. We have been relying on contact tracing, but contact tracing hasn’t been working. The spread is so significant at this point that it’s truly almost impossible to trace every single line of infection.”

Tracing the contact among potentially affected individuals has been one of the methodologies public health authorities have used to try to slow the transmission of infectious diseases. Public health authorities are turning to mobile phone technology to help improve and automate the most difficult aspects of contact tracing.

The Exposure Notifications technology assists public health authorities in their efforts to notify people of possible COVID-19 exposure in a way that’s more reliable, efficient and private. The app for your area (if available) can be found in your app store.

Once you opt-in to the Exposure Notifications System, it will generate a random ID for your device. To help ensure these random IDs can’t be used to identify you or your location, they change every 10-20 minutes.

Your phone and the phones around you will work in the background to exchange these privacy-preserving random IDs via Bluetooth. You do not need to have the app open for this process to take place.

Your phone periodically checks all the random IDs associated with positive COVID-19 cases against its own list. If there’s a match, the app will notify you with further instructions from your public health authority on how to keep you and the people around you safe.

Currently, the state of Florida does not recognize the use of this app, but Berrent hopes that stories like this will help make the community aware of the app and push state officials to take part in this app.

“My hope is that if the community knows this app is available, they will help to make state officials realize how important it is in helping fight the COVID-19 virus,” Berrent said.

To learn more, visit www.google.com/covid19/exposurenotifications/select/.

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Libby is a writer for The Osprey Observer/The Christian Voice. She started as an intern in 2009 and upon finishing her internship, she was asked to stay on as a permanent writer for both papers. Libby lives in Brandon with her two rescue dogs, Olive and Bogey.