Pennsylvania launches contact tracing app built on Apple and Google tech

Joanna Estrada
September 24, 2020

"It's an app that uses Bluetooth technology to help identify individuals who may have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus", Wolf said.

The download is also equipped with a venue QR code scanner, a tool users can report their symptoms on and a system through which people can order a test. The DHSC said the NHS Test and Trace team behind the app has worked closely with major tech companies, including Google and Apple, scientists within the Alan Turing Institute and Oxford University, Zuhlke Engineering, medical experts, privacy groups, at-risk communities and teams in countries across the world using similar apps - such as Germany - to develop an app that is "safe, simple and secure".

The app launched at midnight and is only available for smartphones.

The app's debut comes a week and a half after the United Kingdom government said that it would launch on September 24, and a month and a half after the app became available to NHS Volunteer Responders, Isle of Wight residents, and Newham residents, all of whom have been testing the app. This means people will not be charged for data when using the in-app functions or if they are directed out of the app to information on NHS websites.

The app, which launched on Thursday, lets users know anonymously if they have been in close contact with someone who has coronavirus, so they can take the right action. Downloading the app will provide instructions on making sure notifications are enabled and the feature is functional. "And it helps by explaining what the rules are and the risk in your area for people easily and straightforwardly to be able to answer questions and consult on the rules so it has a whole series of features". However the government's logic appears to be that more features will encourage more people to download the app and thereby increase uptake and utility.

"We all play a part in stopping the spread of COVID-19, which is why I am encouraging every Pennsylvanian to add their phone to the fight and download COVID Alert PA today".

In addition, it has a timer that counts down a person's time left in self-isolation. "So if we don't speed up testing then the app is functionally useless".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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