Updated: Aug 11, 2021
This week Google and Apple announced their largest partnership ever. The two behemoths will team up on a new contact tracing app that is designed to be used with federal sites and the CDC. The technology will roll out later this month reportedly and be automatically inserted into iPhones and Androids. The product will use Bluetooth technology to determine who has been in proximity with the individual carrying that device. If someone tests positive later for Covid-19, this product will later alert everyone within a certain proximity of that individual.
Although this technology is amazing, many questions remain regarding the value of this product and will go unanswered until its launch. How much lag will occur between the contact and the notification that the person may have had exposure? How long and how close will be recorded? What if someone has proximity in an elevator or in is a different room, will the app record all this? What if someone is 5 feet away but in a plexiglass cubicle? Will the app drain my battery?
Other questions surround the innovation from a different angle. Attacks have been made in the UK where the government citing privacy concerns have decided not to trial the product. Some group have expressed that big tech has more sinister angles and wondered what will they or the governments do with this information???
Many of these questions could be answered with the launch. However, the main one will surround value. How important is it for me to know whom I was near 3 days ago (a minimum lag between an asymptomatic carrier developing symptoms, contacting a provider, finding a health center, and testing positive)? How many contacts will that bring up? Can all of them be quarantined? What will each potential exposed individual do with the information? Will there be fatigue of all the contacts I may have had?
Until the tech giants can answer so of these issues, this product will be the object of speculation, derision, and wonder. Stay tuned!