Health Canada has officially launched an app to help with COVID-19 contact tracing.
The app, named COVID Alert, became available on Apple and Google on Friday.
It was originally going to launch it’s test run in Ontario at the beginning of the month, but it was delayed.
Premier Doug Ford is strongly encouraging everyone to download and use the app.
“This important, made-in-Ontario COVID Alert app will be a critical part of our case and contact management strategy as more regions in Ontario enter Stage 3 today,” said Premier Ford. “This innovative tool was developed by some of the best and brightest minds in our province, working in partnership with Ottawa.”
The app uses Bluetooth technology to detect when app users are near each other. It does not collect or track any location data.
However, your device must have Bluetooth enabled at all times in order for the app to be effective.
According to the province, the app also doesn’t collect any personal data such as names, addresses or contact information.
It works by sending users an alert if they’ve spent at least 15 minutes within two metres of someone who has tested positive in the last 14 days.
“While we have made good progress over the past few months, COVID-19 remains a very serious threat to the health of Canadians,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeua. “As we continue to gradually restart our economy, innovative technologies like this new app will help us keep our families and communities safe and healthy.”
Here is the description from the app store:
Together, let’s slow the spread of COVID-19. Canada’s COVID Alert app notifies you if someone you were near in the past 14 days tells the app they tested positive.
COVID Alert uses Bluetooth to exchange random codes with nearby phones. It does not use or access any location data. COVID Alert works by determining how far away other phones are by the strength of their Bluetooth signal.
Several times a day, COVID Alert checks a list of codes from people who tell the app they tested positive. You’ll get a notification if a code you received matches one of the positive codes.
If you test positive for COVID-19 you’ll receive a one-time key with your diagnosis to enter into COVID Alert. The app asks permission to share your random codes from the last 14 days with a central server. Other phones using COVID Alert check the central server periodically throughout the day. If they recorded any codes that match the codes in the central server, their user will be notified that they were exposed.
COVID Alert has no way of knowing:
your location as COVID Alert does not use GPS or location services
your name or address
the place or time you were near someone or if you’re currently near someone who was previously diagnosed.
Provincial and territorial governments are working to support COVID Alert across Canada. In some places, people cannot yet report a COVID-19 diagnosis through this app.
It’s still helpful to keep COVID Alert on, no matter where you are. That way, when people are able to report a diagnosis, you’ll find out if you were near them.
COVID Alert was built by Health Canada with the Canadian Digital Service on the private exposure notification framework by Apple and Google.”