Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Contact Tracing Apps: Are they working and who’s using them?


The point of contact tracing apps was to try to play an impact in curbing the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. However, they have only played a limited role in preventing the spread. These apps were designed to let people or a family know when they come close to another person who has received a positive test for the virus. This was done in the hopes that the people who were in contact with the person with the positive results would then also get tested and self-isolate.

Closer to the onset of the virus, there was a lot of talk in certain countries in regards to the importance of these kinds of apps. For example, content tracing apps were a part of the daily briefing about coronavirus in the U.K. for some time. Today, there is little talk of this. The way that many of these apps work is that they use Bluetooth technology to send updates if two smartphones are near each other. Location data is tracked through GPS. The big issue though is privacy. In fact, this has plagued places like Norway where a large contact tracing app had to be withdrawn from the market because its privacy was so insufficient.

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