Technology continues to play a vital part in our fight against the global pandemic. At the onset of COVID-19, sheltering-in-place and other safety measures were quickly implemented to reduce transmission risk significantly. This drastically changed many of our daily operations.
Countless day-to-day movements had to be adapted to the current circumstances. This forced a mass transition into the digital landscape, making technology more important than ever. Work-from-home arrangements and online schooling became common at the height of the pandemic.
A Step Forward
The discovery and development of a vaccine towards the end of 2020 became a light of hope for many people. Of course, this particular advancement wasn't done overnight. Experts had to pour extensive hours of labor and research before arriving at a conclusive sample.
Testing was also essential to make sure that the vaccine was viable and safe for use. Before the experts got it right, they had to pass it through various institutions, like kinase assay screening facilities. Now, it's only a matter of time before a mass rollout is expected.
Trace The Source
While the vaccine is a massive step towards the end of the pandemic, the path remains long. Traversing that same path might also prove to be slow. Contact tracing is one of the key processes needed to help mitigate the spread of the virus. Now, technology has taken up this essential role, and it can be done from the palm of your hand.
Smartphones have become somewhat of an extension of individuals. Before the pandemic, people already found themselves spending long hours on this device. These hours only seemed to stretch longer amidst the global pandemic.
This is not necessarily a bad thing since smartphones offer many convenient and effective ways of doing daily operations. From ordering your groceries to video calling loved ones, it's no wonder these devices are so absorbing. However, the development of track-and-trace systems is the latest and most significant update to have on your smartphone.
There have been new mobile apps for contact tracingpopping up here and there ever since exposure notifications became available around June. Unfortunately, not a lot of people are actively using them. Some might not even be aware that this function exists.
Approximately 50% of the population should have access to an exposure notification application. Yet, it was observed that only about 6 million people have tried using them ever since the first app came out in August.
Smartphone operating systems have since been notifying users about new app launches in hopes of bolstering these figures. National and local government authorities have also been promoting the use of these apps.
How It Works
The track-and-trace technology collaborated with the two biggest smartphone manufacturers in the market: Apple and Google. They managed to create this platform to allow cross-communication between their smartphones-all in hopes of keeping infection levels low.
Apple and Google developed an application programming interface (API). This serves as the foundation for health applications to transmit data with one another regardless of their operating system. The front-end interface, however, still has to be developed by app creators themselves.
This particular technology has access to Bluetooth signals, which is perfect for wireless transmission at low energies. Your smartphone's battery won't be at risk of draining. The idea is that your phone will log random numerical codes of other phones it comes into contact with.
Setting It Up
The exposure notification system for the Android and iOS phones will vary, but their function will remain the same. When you report yourself as COVID-positive, this record will go into a server. Anybody who was in contact with your numerical ID code will be notified.
These people will then be aware of the necessary actions they should take. Getting tested or self-isolating will definitely help to mitigate further transmission of the virus. For these contact tracing apps to work, you'll have to turn your Bluetooth and location tracking features on.
To set this up on Android devices, go to Settings > Google > Covid-19 Exposure Notifications. For iOS users, on the other hand, it's in Settings > Privacy > Health > Covid-19 Exposure Logging. There will also be an option to delete the exposure log so that it won't take up too much storage on your smartphone.
This track-and-trace technology is a promising advancement in combatting the global pandemic. The adoption of this feature, however, is still up for debate. Data privacy, for instance, is a huge concern for many individuals.
Apple and Google have both guaranteed the public that their data will be secure. No personally identifiable information will be accessible by the companies or other individuals, hence the random numerical codes.
False positives are another issue to worry about. States have since developed methods of verification to help prevent this from happening. At the end of the day, contact tracing is a personal responsibility everyone should bear. Everybody has a role to play in stopping the global pandemic. This technology only serves to make that responsibility easier and more accessible.
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