Apple & Google Collaborate on COVID-19 Contact Tracing Technology

Apple & Google Collaborate on COVID-19 Contact Tracing Technology

COVID-19 Statistics as on 15 April 2020:

The rising cases of the coronavirus have adversely impacted several countries around the world. As per the data provided by the World Health Organization, as on 15 April 2020 (at 09:00 PM AEST), there are 1,878,489 confirmed positive coronavirus cases and 117,217 reported deaths. The numbers continue to increase and have become a significant concern amongst the nations. The governments, as well as healthcare providers, are working tirelessly to safeguard their people and get the economy back up and running.

Most of the countries have entered the third stage of transmission, i.e. the community transmission and the number of cases is growing exponentially. Despite several preventive measures taken up by the governments as well as the corporates, the numbers are continuously increasing. Big nations like the US have kneeled in front of this pandemic. Most of the cases have come from this region, followed by Spain, Germany and Italy.

Most of the nations have taken the support of the technology to beat COVID-19. Software developers are participating by designing technical tools to fight against the deadly virus & save lives.

ALSO READ: Battle Against Novel Coronavirus Goes High-Tech

In countries like the US, where the rising cases have become a big reason to worry, big technology players like Apple and Google have joined hands to find a solution for the coronavirus spread. This could be considered as a big leap in the technology sector.

In this article, we would be looking at the partnership between the two tech giants based out of the US.

Apple-Google Partnership to Battle Against Deadly COVID-19:

On 10 April 2020, Apple announced that Apple, along with Google, has entered a partnership on COVID-19 contact tracing technology. Both the companies would make use of the Bluetooth technology to assist governments as well as the health agencies in lessening the spread of the deadly disease, keeping in mind the privacy as well as the security as the core while designing.

Since coronavirus can be communicated via close by vicinity to the affected person, public health officials have found contact tracing as a useful tool to help contain its spread. Along with this, various top public health authorities, colleges, and Non-Government Organisations across the globe have been working to develop opt-in contact tracing technology. On this front, Google and Apple would be introducing a complete solution that comprises APIs as well as OS-level technology to aid in allowing contact tracing.

In the present situation, the plan is that the implementation would take place in two steps and at the same time, maintain robust security when it comes to user privacy.

In May 2020, both the companies would be releasing the Application Programming Interface that would allow interoperability in between Android and iOS devices using apps from public health authorities which could be downloaded from the app stores.

In the coming months, Apple, as well as Google, would be working to allow a more comprehensive Bluetooth-based contact tracing platform by developing these features into the core platforms. Both the companies consider this step as a reliable solution than an Application Programming Interface. They will allow more people to participate if they choose and allow interaction with a wide network of apps as well as government health establishments.

In all this, privacy, transparency and consent would be considered as the top priority in this effort.

After knowing about their partnership, let’s also see their response to COVID-19 individually.

Apple:

On 27 March 2020, Apple announced that it released a new COVID-19 app along with the website in accordance with the guidance provided by CDC. The company released a new screening tool as well as a set of resources that help the people updated and take proper measures to protect themselves from the spread of the disease.

Both COVID-19 website, as well as COVID-19 app, are present easily on App Store in partnership with CDC, FEMA & the Coronavirus Task Force by White House. The app makes it easy for the public throughout the nation to get reliable data as well as supervision during when the US is under the heavy burden of coronavirus.

The app, as well as the website, lets users respond a couple of queries pertaining to the risk factors, current exposure as well as COVID-19 likely disease characteristics for themselves or their loved one. Based on the response gathered from the user, they would receive a recommendation from the CDC, which would include guidance on social distancing and self-isolating. It would also guide on how to monitor symptoms carefully, whether there is a need for any test at any moment and the time to get in touch with the medical provider.

The app & the website also offer usage to materials to assist individuals in staying apprised & get the help they require.

Google:

Google has set up an incident response team that remains linked with the World Health Organization. The leaders of the Company are continually meeting to take any vital decisions about their offices across the world.

Steps taken by Google:

  • Helping people find useful information:

People take assistance from Google to search for information related to vaccine, travel advisories as well as prevention tips. Its SOS Alert in the search enables people to get the latest news along with the safety tips and the links to more reliable data from the World Health Organization.

  • Protecting people from misinformation:

The Trust and Safety team of Google are working tirelessly to protect the users from any phishing, conspiracy theories, malware and misinformation. They are continuously keeping an eye on new threats. On YouTube, the company is promptly deleting any material claiming to cease the spread of coronavirus instead of getting medical treatment. Further, they are blocking all Ads that capitalises on COVID-19.

  • Enabling productivity for remote workers and students 

Some of the Google applications like Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Classroom, Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chats are being used by employees, educators as well as students to remain productive while they operate or study remotely.

  • Supporting relief efforts & government organisations:

Google is offering $25 million in donated ad credit to the World Health Organisations as well as government bodies. They would also contribute more in case of requirement throughout the year.

& Google.org have contributed more than $1 million to aid relief efforts. The fund would be utilised by corporations to buy medical goods, give food as well as lodging to lead workers, help with long-term recovery attempts, as well as support the creation of temporary hospitals.

  • Developing health research as well as science: 

Google’s DeepMind uses its AlphaFold system for generating structural projections for various SARS-CoV-2 related proteins. The predictions will aid scientists in understanding how the virus functions in a better way.


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