When last we checked, Google and Apple had four states working with them for beaconed anonymous contact and exposure tracing. APIs had been added to Apple and Android, and the public health response to these in the United States was four states said sure, maybe.
Now about 45% of the US population will be able to participate (20 states and territories) as the pandemic rages on and 158,375 Americans have died and in-person contact tracing is now next to impossible with 2.4 million active cases and a running average of 60 thousand new cases a day.
The way it works is simple – you flip a setting in your Android or Apple to enable the contact tracing. A service runs in the background that beacons out “hey I’m anonymous 3872934897234” every few seconds. Other phones nearby listen and beacon out “hey I’m anonymous 3203408473814” and a log is sent somewhere with approximate location and how long you were around them.
You get a new anonymous number every so often so there’s no way stores or stalkers can identify you by beacon, your phone is the only one that keeps up with all your anonymous numbers, and if you or someone you’ve been around tests positive for Covid-19, when your phone checks if there are any notifications for any of your previous numbers you can be notified that you’ve been exposed to someone positive and for how long.
This relies on people being kind enough to enable it and run an app from their health department, which at the moment as we saw with the mask debate in the US is doomed to fail, or at least end up with a Scamdemic-style video for people who can’t understand that if Google and Apple could push this to your phone in the first place without you knowing they could have enabled it without you ever knowing, like the government or your carrier can do, at any time.[The Goog]