Using cellphones for COVID-19 contact tracing seems like a good idea, if you can protect people’s privacy.
Engineers at Apple and Google think they have the answer. And Governor Phil Murphy is satisfied.
New Jersey is rolling out a free app that residents can volunteer to use if they want alerts notifying them if they’ve been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
The app also provides users with up-to-date information on New Jersey reopening news, key COVID-19 metrics, and a user-friendly symptom tracking tool. COVID Alert NJ uses Bluetooth proximity technology. The app will never record any identifying data. All users will remain anonymous.
COVID Alert NJ works through an underlying system developed by Google and Apple. A user’s app detects and logs Bluetooth devices that have been within six feet of the user for 10 minutes or longer. These devices then exchange anonymous random codes.
If one of the users tests positive within the next 14 days, they will be contacted by a public health representative working at the local health department and provided with a validation code. After a positive user enters the validation code into the app, the app will retrieve all of the random codes collected over the preceding 14 days and will send an anonymous notification to those individuals who have potentially been exposed to COVID-19.
The app does not use, track, or collect any geolocation or GPS data. It works exclusively through Bluetooth proximity detection. If you live and work in different states the app has you covered. You only need to download one COVID Alert app from your state of residence. NJ, NY, DE, and PA have worked together as a region to ensure all COVID Alert apps will work across the states with an app.