Google and Apple launch new systems: mobile phones can be used to track contacts of the new coronavirus


Alphabet’s Google Inc. and Apple Inc. announced on Tuesday that they have launched a new system that allows public health authorities to use smartphones to help track contacts of the new coronavirus without developing apps .

Public health officials will be able to use this new system called “Exposure Notifications Express” (hereinafter referred to as “ENE”) to submit a small configuration file to Apple and Google, which will be used by these two technology companies Establish a system, and mobile phone users can choose to join this system to determine whether they have been in contact with patients with the new coronavirus.

For the iPhone, the new version of the iOS operating system released on Tuesday will remind users whether the local health department uses the ENE system, and users can set it up without downloading any new apps. Android phone users will also receive a prompt from the operating system, but need to download an automatically generated application.

Google and Apple said that Maryland, Nevada, Virginia and Washington DC will be the first regions in the United States to use the new system. The ENE system can also be used in conjunction with the tools released by the two companies in May. These tools allow public health officials to develop applications that allow iPhone and Android phones to use Bluetooth signals to detect user contact with patients with the new coronavirus.

In recent weeks, six states and more than 20 countries in the United States have launched “exposure notification” applications based on Apple and Google technologies, and there have been no major failures during this period. The compatibility between these apps is becoming stronger, allowing public health officials to conduct cross-border tracking. At the same time, Hawaii and other regions are advancing another tracking technology.

However, whether “exposure notice” can effectively reduce the speed of virus transmission is still a big question. To protect user privacy, most governments do not track detailed data used by applications. For example, in Alabama, more than 1,000 students were infected in an outbreak in August. But a university representative said that it is too early to make a judgment on whether Alabama’s two-week-old app has played a role.

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