Coronavirus: Apple and Google team up to contact trace Covid-19

The two companies plan to add contact tracing to their operating systems so no extra apps are needed.

Apple and Google are jointly developing technology to alert people if they have recently come into contact with others found to be infected with coronavirus.

They hope to initially help third-party contact-tracing apps run efficiently.

But ultimately, they aim to do away with the need to download dedicated apps, to encourage the practice.

The two companies believe their approach - designed to keep users, whose participation would be voluntary, anonymous - addresses privacy concerns.

Their contact-tracing method would work by using a smartphone's Bluetooth signals to determine to whom the owner had recently been in proximity for long enough to have established contagion a risk. 

If one of those people later tested positive for the Covid-19 virus, a warning would be sent to the original handset owner.

No GPS location data or personal information would be recorded.

"Privacy, transparency and consent are of utmost importance in this effort and we look forward to building this functionality in consultation with interested stakeholders," Apple and Google said in a joint statement.

"We will openly publish information about our work for others to analyse."

US President Donald Trump is expected to give the initiative his backing, at a White House press conference later.

Apple is the developer of iOS. Google is the company behind Android. The two operating systems power the vast majority of smartphones in use.

Some countries - including Singapore, Israel, South Korea and Poland - are already using people's handsets to issue coronavirus contagion alerts.

Other health authorities - including the UK, France and Germany - are working on initiatives of their own. And some municipal governments in the US are reportedly about to adopt a third-party app.

The two technology giants aim to bring coherence to all this by allowing existing third-party apps to be retrofitted to include their solution.

This would make the apps interoperable, so contact tracing would continue to work as people travelled overseas and came into contact with people using a different tool.

Apple and Google have been working on the effort for about two weeks but have not externally revealed their plans until Friday.

If successful, the scheme could help countries relax lockdowns and border restrictions.

Phone-based matches

 

The companies aim to release a software building-block - known as an API (application programming interface) - by mid-May.

This would allow others' apps to run on the same basis.

Records of the digital IDs involved would be stored on remote computer servers but the companies say these could not be used to unmask a specific individual's true identity.

Furthermore, the contact-matching process would take place on the phones rather than centrally.

This would make it possible for someone to be told they should go into quarantine, without anyone else being notified.

The two companies are releasing details of the cryptography specifications they plan to use to safeguard privacy.

They hope this will convince activists their approach can be trusted.

Apple and Google say another benefit of their solution is developers would not risk the iOS and Android versions of their apps becoming incompatible because of a buggy update.

In addition, they believe it would be less taxing on battery life than current contact-tracing systems.

No app needed

Phase two of the initiative involves building contact-tracing capabilities into the iOS and Android operating systems. Users could then switch the capability on and off again without having to download an app at all.

Approved third-party apps would still be able to interact with the facility if desired.

The facility would be delivered via a future system software update. But the companies have yet to say when this would occur.

"This is a more robust solution," they say, suggesting there would be wider adoption if users did not have to download additional software for themselves.

It also provides the companies with the ability to easily disable tracing on a regional basis when the pandemic ends.

While Apple and Google hope others will see benefits of adopting their approach, this is not guaranteed.

An independent effort - the Pan-European Privacy-Preserving Proximity Tracing (PEPP-PT) initiative - revealed its own attempt to deliver a privacy-centric solution on 1 April.

About 130 technologists and scientists are involved and the group has already made contact with several European governments.BBC

 
 

Other News

.
Vietnamese Covid-19 vaccine test on mice shows positive signs
Vietnamese Covid-19 vaccine test on mice shows positive signs
SCI-TECH & ENVIRONMENTicon  08/05/2020 

Vietnam has seen some initial positive results for the test of a locally-made Covid-19 vaccine on mice.

No appropriate solutions implemented to improve pollution
No appropriate solutions implemented to improve pollution
SCI-TECH & ENVIRONMENTicon  09/05/2020 

An increase in the number of industrial zones has been polluting Vietnam’s environment, and there are no appropriate solutions in place, 

Binh Thuan declares Level 2 drought emergency
Binh Thuan declares Level 2 drought emergency
SCI-TECH & ENVIRONMENTicon  08/05/2020 

The south-central coastal province of Binh Thuan declared a Level 2 emergency on May 7 regarding drought and water shortages.

ITU Digital World postponed until September 2021
ITU Digital World postponed until September 2021
SCI-TECH & ENVIRONMENTicon  07/05/2020 

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Digital World will be organised in Hanoi in September 2021, instead of September 2020, due to impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Revenues of Vietnam’s software and IT services hit US$9 billion
Revenues of Vietnam’s software and IT services hit US$9 billion
SCI-TECH & ENVIRONMENTicon  08/05/2020 

The country is ranked among the five most attractive economies in terms of software export services.

Science-led solutions needed for Lower Mekong region: Experts
Science-led solutions needed for Lower Mekong region: Experts
SCI-TECH & ENVIRONMENTicon  08/05/2020 

Voices, opinions, and experiences from the local community and experts should be taken seriously for any policy making process.

Coronavirus mutations: Scientists puzzle over impact
Coronavirus mutations: Scientists puzzle over impact
SCI-TECH & ENVIRONMENTicon  07/05/2020 

A study has identified a mutation that its authors say could make the coronavirus more infectious.

Nation ready to enjoy Super Flower Moon on May 7
Nation ready to enjoy Super Flower Moon on May 7
SCI-TECH & ENVIRONMENTicon  07/05/2020 

The last supermoon of the year will take place on May 7, with local people getting ready to enjoy the chance to admire the Super Flower Moon.

Google Maps removes wrongful information about beach in Vietnam’s Phu Yen province
Google Maps removes wrongful information about beach in Vietnam’s Phu Yen province
SCI-TECH & ENVIRONMENTicon  07/05/2020 

Google Maps has removed false information about Phu Lam beach in Vietnam’s south-central coastal province of Phu Yen, according to a local official.

Fee for industrial wastewater treatment in Vietnam to be changed in 2021
Fee for industrial wastewater treatment in Vietnam to be changed in 2021
SCI-TECH & ENVIRONMENTicon  07/05/2020 

The Government has issued a new decree on environmental protection fees for industrial wastewater treatment that will replace Decree 154 in 2016.

Construction on biggest data centre in Vietnam starts
Construction on biggest data centre in Vietnam starts
SCI-TECH & ENVIRONMENTicon  07/05/2020 

Construction on the country's the largest data centre, owned by FPT Telecom, officially started at the Hi-Tech Park in HCM City on Monday.

UV indexes soar as big cities in Vietnam enter heat wave
UV indexes soar as big cities in Vietnam enter heat wave
SCI-TECH & ENVIRONMENTicon  07/05/2020 

Ultraviolet (UV) indexes in Hanoi, HCM City and Da Nang on Wednesday are forecasted to reach strong and very strong levels, raising the risk of skin damage in direct sunlight.

HCM City launches app to assess COVID-19 transmission risks
HCM City launches app to assess COVID-19 transmission risks
SCI-TECH & ENVIRONMENTicon  06/05/2020 

The HCM City Department of Information and Communications on May 5 launched an application that will help assess COVID-19 transmission risks.

Scientists explain magnetic pole's wanderings
Scientists explain magnetic pole's wanderings
SCI-TECH & ENVIRONMENTicon  06/05/2020 

The North Magnetic Pole has been racing across the top of the world, from Canada towards Siberia.

HCM City moves closer to smart city model
HCM City moves closer to smart city model
SCI-TECH & ENVIRONMENTicon  06/05/2020 

HCM City is moving toward becoming a smart city, the city’s chairman Nguyen Thanh Phong told Nguoi Lao Dong newspaper on the sidelines of a meeting on May 5.

PewDiePie signs exclusive live-streaming deal with YouTube
PewDiePie signs exclusive live-streaming deal with YouTube
SCI-TECH & ENVIRONMENTicon  05/05/2020 

YouTube's biggest star will stream on the platform again, after defecting to a rival in 2019.

Rumours swirl Apple could be set to open a factory in Vietnam
Rumours swirl Apple could be set to open a factory in Vietnam
SCI-TECH & ENVIRONMENTicon  05/05/2020 

Tech giant Apple of the United States has been stepping up recruitment for a number of positions in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, raising the possibility that they are seeking to set up a factory in Vietnam.

Ca Mau dyke network seeing severe subsidence
Ca Mau dyke network seeing severe subsidence
SCI-TECH & ENVIRONMENTicon  05/05/2020 

Some 1,670 metres of dykes in U Minh district’s Khanh Tien commune in the southernmost province of Ca Mau have subsided in recent times - the latest in a number of similar incidents along the dyke network facing the Gulf of Thailand.

Netflix stops Vietnamese scammers by eliminating free trial period
Netflix stops Vietnamese scammers by eliminating free trial period
SCI-TECH & ENVIRONMENTicon  05/05/2020 

Netflix, the most popular movie and TV streaming service, has taken action to prevent account fraud.

Vietnam to develop modern air monitoring network
Vietnam to develop modern air monitoring network
SCI-TECH & ENVIRONMENTicon  05/05/2020 

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) is moving ahead with a project on building 19 automatic air environment monitoring stations in 17 cities and provinces and 20 stations specializing in measuring PM2.5 dust.

 
 
 
Leave your comment on an article

OR QUICK LOGIN