Alberta health officials say the province’s new ABTraceTogether mobile app will improve tracking of Alberta’s COVID-19 contacts and further limit the spread of the coronavirus.
The free app is optional and uses Bluetooth technology to help Alberta Health find people who may have been exposed to a COVID-19 carrier.
“We need to identify all the cases as soon as possible. Identify all places where the spread can occur and take steps to stop it from spreading to all of these places, “said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health last week. .
“The advantage of this application is that it accelerates the collection of information to support the contact tracing work that our public health workers are already doing. “
Current contact tracing involves interviewing a COVID-19 patient to find out where he has been in the past two weeks and with whom he has been in prolonged contact during this period.
But these interviews depend entirely on the patient’s memory and their willingness to disclose information.
The application aims to increase the process by creating a digital exchange of information between the users of the application when they are close to each other.
Patients who test positive for COVID-19 will be asked to install and use the application, but it is not mandatory for them or any other Albertan.
Contact tracing can help limit the spread of the coronavirus by identifying potentially infected individuals and ensuring that they follow appropriate protocols to avoid spreading the disease to others.
Its developers claim that it is based on a similar open source application based in Singapore and believe that the Alberta version is the first of its kind in North America.
HOW IT WORKS
The app uses Bluetooth technology to identify other nearby phones that have also installed the app and are in close proximity to each other for 15 minutes or more. The
If a user tests positive for COVID-19, their location data can be uploaded to Alberta Health Services, and used to track their previous location along with other potentially infected users.
Data is stored on the phone itself and can only be shared with AHS by a user who does so voluntarily.
The province says the application is intended to complement, not replace, existing contact tracing procedures.
The developers say that the app does not share identifiable information between users and that information such as age, gender and postal code is not collected.
The province says a privacy impact assessment has been submitted and there is active consultation with the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner.
“Knowing in plain language what types of personal information may be collected, how it will be used and when it will be disclosed will help people choose to accept the use of the application,” Jill Clayton, Alberta Information and Privacy The commissioner wrote last week in a statement to CTV News.
Similar apps have been used in Australia and parts of Asia.
It is currently available for Android and iPhone users.
With files from Ryan White