Ala. among few states to incorporate Apple, Google contact tracing technology

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) -- We’re finding out more about that contact tracing app Governor Ivey mentioned in her news conference Thursday.

The technology would be able to track those who may have been exposed to COVID-19 through Bluetooth.

Governor Ivey called this “good news” in her news conference.

She said this technology will become an important tool to slow the spread of the virus by using something everyone has in their pocket— a cell phone.

Apple and Google say they’ve built an Exposure Notifications technology, which can tell someone they may have been exposed to the virus.

It’s not an app. Instead, it’s a technology that public health agencies can incorporate into their own apps for people to install.

Once you install the app, Bluetooth would basically exchange signals between app users that are close to each other.

If an app user is diagnosed with COVID-19, it is up to them whether to report it in the app.

If they do report it, the technology would then alert all other app users who were near that infected app user recently.

We asked Dr. Eric Wilson with the Jefferson County Department of Health about concerns people in our state might have.

“Certainly there are privacy concerns I think that a lot of people have,” said Dr. Wilson. “Even if you have an app that tracks using iPhone data, that tracks where you’ve been, how many people in the public are going to be comfortable with that?”

But Apple and Google say the system does not collect location data from your device, and does not share identities of other users to each other.

Both companies say the user controls all data they want to share, and the decision to share it.

And the technology can be turned off at any time.

For more information and access to FAQs answered by Google and Apple, you can click here.

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