Two of the biggest powerhouses in mobile operating system – Google and Apple – are coming together for a noble project. This unlikely union and collaboration is taking place all for the sake of stemming the growth of coronavirus. The two companies have issued a white paper to provide a brief idea about this upcoming project.
Both companies announced on Friday that this collaborative project will seek to create a contact tracing technology by leveraging the power of smartphones that will hopefully aid in keeping a tab on the spread of COVID 19. The CEOs of both companies – Sundar pichai and Tim Cook – took to their Twitter handles for announcing this project.
To create this all-embracing technology, the two tech giants will initially create APIs that will pave way for seamless interoperability between IOS and Android. This is likely to happen somewhere in May and will eventually allow Apps from public health authorities to easily function across the two platforms –IOS and Android.
The application program interfaces or APIS will finally lead to a Bluetooth-based contact tracing platform that will be in-built within the operating systems. Both companies claimed in a blog post that building in-built solution integrated within the system will create for a more robust solution, rather than a standalone APIs.
This Bluetooth platform will evoke voluntary (asking users consent and permission) contact-tracing network that will enable to keep extensive data on the smartphones. Public health authorities will then get an access to this data that they can aptly use for controlling the contagious spread of COVID. For instance, with the help of this data, health authorities can alter the users whether they have were recently in close contact with any infected person.
Additionally, this Bluetooth platform will boost host of other contact tracing functionalities. The white paper also explicitly states that the identity of the infected person will not be revealed.
The ‘contact tracing’ method has been widely hailed as one of the most promising methods to contain the progress of Covid-19. And the fact that the two of the biggest technology companies are coming together may give this promising method a required boost.
But critics argue that the Bluetooth based contact tracing technology leads to excessive digital surveillance and is likely to compromise on user’s data privacy. They likewise point that this technology is still in its nascent stage and that it is unlikely to completely replace the traditional contact tracing method.