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Friday, 22 May 2020

Exposure Notification API: A Joint Venture by Apple and Google

Picture of apple and Google logos showing their joint collaboration for making an API


Covid-19 has made life stagnant and it has affected people in several ways. To protect people and make this world up and running again the two tech giants have collaborated to help government and public health authorities in providing solutions to stopping the spread of coronavirus.

On 10 April 2020 Google and Apple announced the contact tracing strategy for combating the increase of Coronavirus patients by smartphones. In this struggle they have come up with a technique that makes use of Bluetooth technology. User’s privacy and identification have been given top priority while developing this API.

Google and Apple have made this API available to the Government, developers, and public health authorities which can incorporate it in their apps and use it to slow down the spread of COVID-19. Applications using the contact tracing approach uses Bluetooth technology, the user’s smartphone continuously exchange beacons with random Bluetooth identifiers from other nearby smartphones and keeps changing it after every 10-20 mins for additional protection of user’s identity. When each phone receives the beacon, it stores it temporarily for 14 days. If any smartphone owner gets diagnosed positively with COVID-19 and shares that test in an app from public health officials, his phone will upload (with his consent) all the keys generated by his Bluetooth beacon from last 14 days to the server which in turn will notify all the people with whom he has been in contact with for the last 14 days by matching the keys periodically from the server. The notified people will then be required to adopt self-quarantine or other important measures. The information regarding the distance between the users can be obtained via Bluetooth signal strength.

Many Government and public health officials are referring this technique to be useless as it is purely based on the user’s consent to upload his test result on the server which will create hindrance in stopping the spread of this pandemic. Moreover they won’t be able to collect location-based data which can help them to pinpoint the infected areas. Furthermore, the continuous use of Bluetooth technology will strain the battery which will irritate the user.

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