As the coronavirus pandemic continues to take heed over the world, many organizations and technology are being used together to help fight the virus. There has never been a more desperate time than now to put aside the differences that the organization may hold and come together to join forces. This is apparent from brands such as Mercedes Benz. They have developed a breathing device to help alleviate the strain of low amounts of ventilating machines, working together with underwater scuba diving equipment to help create ventilator alternatives. Collaborations are the driving force of moving forward, and in a rare partnership, Apple and Google have come together to add new software to their devices, which can help track people with the virus to slow the spread.
Apple and Google whos operating systems power 99% of the global smartphones have decided to collaborate by adding developed software to their devices, making it easier to track down people who have been or are infected by covid-19. In order for the system to work and be effective, it would require millions of users to opt in to sharing their data with the new technology, forcing them to trust the tech giants and giving Apple and Google the responsibility of safeguarding personal data.
The new planned software will be installed on smartphones, and the contact-tracing technology will emit a unique Bluetooth signal via sensors. By doing so, it will allow phones that are within 6ft distances of one another to record anonymous information about their encounters. For those who have tested positive for coronavirus, they will be given the option to send an encrypted list of phones they have come near to Apple and Google. By doing so, it will allow the software to send trigger alerts to people who have been potentially exposed to the virus, urging them to seek more information by getting tested. To keep the process accurate, health authorities will need to confirm that a person has tested positive for the virus before they can send in the data. This will help keep the system accurate and helpful.
To help keep the information anonymous, the logs of infected individuals will be scrambled along with the whole system, which means there will be no possible way of identifying individuals. Both companies have also said in confidence that their contract tracing system will not track GPS location. This is mainly due to the fact that GPS does not give an accurate account of location as it can not be used in tall story buildings and is too ambiguous.
Many countries are already using contact tracing technology, which is proving to be successful. For example, in South Korea, health experts have credited software like this, helping to slow the spread of the virus. Google has begun sharing activity data of the public in the UK to demonstrate its movement and how the pandemic is responding to an increased number of people.
The collaborative work between the two companies is thought to be released in mid-May. The software will be available through apps which will be approved by themselves and health authorities. This will help keep the restrictions and data tight. They have also stated that over the coming months, they will release software updates to smartphone devices so that users will not need to use a separate app on their phones to log nearby devices. The smartphone will be updated with the software so that the log can be updated automatically.
It is thought that Apple will distribute the technology as an update to its iPhone operating system, making it widely available for its users. Google has claimed that the software will not be available on its devices where services are blocked. This includes unofficial Android devices and China.
These unprecedented times call for collaboration from big organizations like Apple and Google to help create technologies to help us get through the pandemic. Medicine and science are also working together collaboratively in aid to develop vaccines sooner and help save lives. The promise that these organizations offer can help turn the pandemic on its head, taking the virus from severe and aggressive to controlled and passive. Simple collaborations can make life-saving changes not just for specific countries but for the world over.