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GuideSafe Exposure Notification app launches statewide

Published: Aug. 17, 2020 at 5:44 PM CDT
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - Along with wearing a mask, social distancing and proper hand washing, another tool is now available to help stop the spread of COVID-19, simply by using our cell phones. Today is the official statewide launch of the GuideSafe Exposure Notification app.

UAB and Birmingham based MotionMobs created this app in conjunction with the Alabama Department of Public Health. Alabama is one of the first states to launch Google and Apple’s joint exposure notification app. This app is supported by CARES act funding.

“We are living in the middle of a pandemic, and it’s time for all of us to fight this pandemic and use technology,” Dr. Curt Carver, UAB’s chief information officer said.

The GuideSafe Exposure Notification app is just once piece of the GuideSafe platform.

“This tool will arm us with the power to inform ourselves regarding potential exposures to COVID-19, and this will be done safely and securely and this will be an extremely powerful tool for us in combating this virus,” Dr. Karen Landers, district medical officer for the ADPH said.

The app is free to download.

“We want everyone in Alabama to be a hero, to use the app,” Dr. Carver said.

The app cannot personally identify users or users you come in contact with, it is anonymous.

“Through use of low energy, Bluetooth and ability to work in background, we’re also compelling from an ease of use perspective,” Dr. Carver said.

For those concerned of their personal information can be collected through the app, Dr. Carver explains the security.

“The app never records location, or identity, or accesses your contact list, the app does not use GPS technology,” Dr. Carver said.

Here is how it works:

“The app generates a random code, for every user phone, the code then changes every 10 to 20 minutes to preserve security,” Dr. Carver said. “As users go about their day, all phones utilizing the Alabama GuideSafe exposure notification app that are in close contact defined as in six feet, for greater than 15 minutes, of other will exchange these random codes via Bluetooth” Dr. Carver said.

To report a positive case users go to the home screen of the app.

“The user puts in their phone number, the phone number is only used to be able to send the user back a text code and then phone number is then destroyed,” Dr. Sue Feldman, professor of health informatics, UAB School of Health Professions said.

That phone number then creates a hash to store information and not data, for later matching with another users code with a possible positive case.

“Once these matches are made, notifications go out to all anonymous encrypted codes that the phone has been collecting over the last 14-day period,” Dr. Feldman said.

Professionals said we must work together to defeat the virus.

“We must be stronger and we must be smarter and this app will allow us to be just that,” Dr. Lander said.

Users must be 14 or older.

Copyright 2020 WTVY. All rights reserved.

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