Google’s COVID-19 Exposure Notifications System launches in India, here is everything you need to know

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Google’s COVID-19 Exposure Notifications System launches in India, here is how to use it

Google and Apple jointly created the Exposure Notifications System out of a shared sense of responsibility to help governments and our global community fight this pandemic through contact tracing. Contact tracing is a technique used by public health authorities to contact and give guidance to anyone who may have been exposed to a person who has contracted COVID-19. This technique will be an essential part of transitioning back to daily life while managing the risk of further outbreaks.

The companies basic aim is to help understand whether you’ve been exposed to someone who reports having COVID-19, you can turn on Exposure Notifications. If you change your mind, you can turn it off. The Exposure Notifications System was built with privacy and security central to the design. Users’ identity is not shared with other users, Google, or Apple.

How do Exposure Notifications work?

When you turn on Exposure Notifications within an app from your region’s government public health authority, your phone shares random IDs with other nearby phones that also have turned on the Exposure Notifications System. Throughout the day, your phone and the phones around you exchange random IDs. When your phone detects a random ID from another device, it records and stores the ID. If someone reports having COVID-19 and their ID is stored on your phone, the app will notify you of the next steps to take.

How the app may determine exposure?

The government public health authority determines which factors might indicate exposure. If the app learns that you’ve come in contact with someone who reports themselves as having COVID-19, the system shares with the app:

  • The day the contact happened.
  • How long the contact lasted.
  • The Bluetooth signal strength of that contact.

The public health authority app is not allowed to use your phone’s location.

How the Exposure Notification System protects your privacy?

You decide if and when to share your data.

  • All of the Exposure Notification matchings happens on your device, which means only you and your app know if you report having COVID-19 or been exposed to someone who has reported having COVID-19. Your identity is never shared with other users, Apple, or Google.
  • When you download a public health authority app, you can opt in to use Exposure Notifications.
  • If you have COVID-19, you can choose to share your random IDs with the app.
  • To help prevent tracking, your phone’s random ID changes every 10-20 minutes.
  • Your phone only stores random IDs from the last 14 days.
  • The public health authority app is not allowed to use your phone’s location or track your location in the background.
  • Only official public health authority apps can use the system.

To use the system, you need to download your public health authority’s app.

  • If you have COVID-19, you may share that info with the app to help alert the people you’ve been in contact with.
  • If you’ve been exposed to someone who has shared they have COVID-19, the app will notify you and give you further instructions

What do you need to get started?

  • Download an app from your region’s government public health authority. To find out if an app is available, check with your government.
  • Turn on your phone’s Bluetooth.
  • Turn on your phone’s location setting. The system uses this to scan for Bluetooth signals. The system does not collect or track your location.

In April this year, Google and Apple formed a rare alliance to develop the exposure notification system. The purpose of the API is to help the health authorities trace contacts of users infected or at risk of getting infected by the Covid-19. The technology uses Bluetooth Low Energy to detect phones in the proximity and exchange data.

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