Recently BBC reported that Australia had launched its Coronavirus tracing app called the COVIDSafe on Sunday. Within an hour of the app’s launch on PlayStore and App Store, the app saw a million downloads. The concept behind the app is to notify users using a ‘Digital Handshake.’ As soon as a user is within 5 feet of another person using the app, and if they have been in contact with an infected person for more than 15 minutes, the app will immediately raise an alert and notify the person.
The COVIDSafe app launched by Australia is based on a Software called the TraceTogether that belongs to Singapore. The software is an advanced tracing technology that does not require the user to share his location no matter what. It uses Bluetooth to trace devices near him. People that have a history of infection or are currently infected with the Coronavirus need to comply with the terms of the app and also consent to share their information.
The Government of Australia has spoken that the app will have data of users. Still, it will be accessible only by the health authorities with authorized permission by the Australian Government. No other third party or authorities can access it, and hence the information stored on it will be completely safe and protected.
Earlier this month, both the tech giant companies Apple and Google said that they would be working on developing a framework that will act like a decentralized contact tracing app. The information stored on the app will be completely protected and also anonymized. Other than that, to build their trust, the companies have also pledged on disabling the service of their framework as soon as the coronavirus pandemic becomes settled and contained.
To date, no country has signed on to this framework and are still deciding whether to use the product provided by Apple and Google. The Senator of Missouri, Josh Hawley, also encouraged the CEO of both the tech giant companies to be directly liable for the information and data collected on the app as part of the framework. From this statement, it is very evident that the countries are finding it difficult to trust the app with their personal information and are looking for a strong reason to use the app.
But that is not all, Germany, on the other hand, has changed their approach of building their coronavirus contact tracing app. And are now more focused on building the app based on the approach used by Google and Apple, which is the decentralized architecture. The Reuters reported this news. The app is not fully developed and is still under development and testing phase. But the people of Germany will soon be able to use the app and maintain social distancing without putting themselves openly at the risk of getting infected.
This approach and method used by different countries all across the world are surely going to benefit people in the long term to curb the spread of the pandemic. No country can afford the lockdown of their economy as well as the state for a long time, and hence when the lockdown is removed, to control the population and make sure that they follow the norms of social distancing, the app will be used.
The COVIDSafe app by the Australian Government has been made mandatory for users to have it installed on their devices whenever they step out of the house. In case a user is found without it, he or she will be asked to download it immediately and also be provided with a warning. The app has been developed for the safety of the human population, and citizens need to be well aware of their responsibility to their country and fellow human beings by complying with their terms.
Whether any country is looking forward to signing on to the framework provided by Google and Apple is still unknown. But both the companies need to make sure that they can establish trust between their companies and the countries with which it will coordinate to build the app.