Release APIs to enable apps to interoperate between Android and iOS devices. Bluetooth-based contact tracing baked into Android and iOS, such that no app is needed for broadcasting/listening. This ensures broad adoption, but will be on an opt-in basis.
How It Works
Users must opt in. Via Bluetooth, devices regularly broadcast and listen to random identifiers (beacons). The beacons change every 10-20 minutes. If a user is diagnosed with COVID-19, they report this on the app, and consent to their most recent beacons going into the [central] positive diagnosis list.
Each device stores the received identifiers. At least once a day, the device downloads the positive diagnosis list and notifies the user of any exposure. Exposure is calculated from time spent within range of an infected person. The beacons’s Bluetooth signal strength is an okay estimate for proximity.
Did it work?
South Korea flattened its COVID-19 curve in 20 days. However, their approach is more privacy invasive, e.g. an app that alerts users if they’re within 100m of a place visited by a confirmed COVID-19 patient based on data released by the KCDC. Inbound travellers must also download an app and report health conditions for 14 days. Google Timeline on Google Maps was also found useful for contact tracing.
Public Policy and Politics
Australia closed its borders, and limited intrastate travel. South Australia piloted a home-based quarantine app that has impromptu prompts. Victoria imposed a curfew and suspended its parliament. New South Wales used the military to enforce lockdowns. Sydney and Melbourne have banned anti-lockdown protests. However, Australia did a subpar job of acquiring and distributing vaccines. That said, while the US has 194/100k deaths, Australia has 4/100k deaths. Given that COVID-19 is now considered an endemic rather than a temporary pandemic, will Australia’s limitations be lifted?
Apple and Google partner on COVID-19 contact tracing technology. https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2020/04/apple-and-google-partner-on-covid-19-contact-tracing-technology/ . https://www.blog.google/inside-google/company-announcements/apple-and-google-partner-covid-19-contact-tracing-technology/ .
Contact tracing. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contact_tracing .
Exposure Notification | Frequently Asked Questions. https://covid19-static.cdn-apple.com/applications/covid19/current/static/contact-tracing/pdf/ExposureNotification-FAQv1.1.pdf . https://www.blog.google/documents/73/Exposure_Notification_-_FAQ_v1.1.pdf .
Exposure Notification - Cryptography Specification. https://covid19-static.cdn-apple.com/applications/covid19/current/static/contact-tracing/pdf/ExposureNotification-CryptographySpecificationv1.2.pdf . https://www.blog.google/documents/69/Exposure_Notification_-_Cryptography_Specification_v1.2.1.pdf .
Coronavirus: The great contact-tracing apps mystery. Rory Cellan-Jones; Leo Kelion. https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-53485569 . Jul 22, 2020.
How Korea responded to a pandemic using ICT: Flattening the curve on COVID-19. http://www.moef.go.kr/com/cmm/fms/FileDown.do?atchFileId=ATCH_000000000013739&fileSn=2 . May 11, 2020.
Is Pandemic Australia Still a Liberal Democracy? Conor Friedersdorf. https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/09/pandemic-australia-still-liberal-democracy/619940/ . https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=28394016 . Sep 2, 2021. Accessed Sep 2, 2021.