EAST LONGMEADOW, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Technology could prove to be a useful tool in the fight against COVID-19.
Apple and Google announced they’re teaming up to create a smartphone notification that would inform cell phone users if they’ve been exposed to the coronavirus.
This is something that’s never happened before – the two competitors are typically head to head, but the tech giants are hoping that together they can help stop the spread of the coronavirus with an exposure notification.
Across the world countries have been working on apps to aid their contact tracing efforts, but they’ve run into technical issues.
"Neither Google or Apple would allow them to run smoothly on their various platforms," said East Longmeadow's Gogeeks Computer Rescue owner Stan Prager.
Prager told Western Mass News that’s because many of the apps use GPS to track people’s location which both tech giants are banning because of privacy concerns
"One of the issues was that a lot of these apps use GPS technology and for privacy concerns the droid phones and iPhone, don't want to let people track you where you are," Prager explained.
Another problem – the apps don’t work on both interfaces.
So together, they’re teaming up to create one app that uses Bluetooth technology instead, which would detect whether someone who has downloaded their app and has spent time near another app user who has tested positive for the virus.
"It's just a matter of identifying the person and then the data will go to health professionals who will collect this data and use it positively," Prager said.
The identity of app users will be protected and remain anonymous and both Apple and Google have made it clear users have the choice whether or not they want to opt-in.
"It isn't going to get automatically installed without your permission," Prager noted.
The goal is to eventually incorporate the technology into system updates.
"They are going to incorporate it into their iOS coming up so it's going to be incorporated into that in the future that's how they envision it," Prager explained.
Again, with the option whether or not to share your information – another huge privacy concern is the app potentially being hacked
"The big concern, I think, everyone has is will my data be shared in the future, is this another portal for people to steal my data, and maybe that's true, but every app on your phone you use can do that if it's hijacked," Prager said.
But Prager also said the pros outweigh the cons.
"The privacy risk here, I think, is minimal and even if it wasn’t I would still want to do it because again there are lives at stake," Prager said.
Some states are using their apps for contact tracing.
Prager said his guess is everyone will transfer over to this app so more people can use it.