On April 10, Apple and Google announced a coronavirus exposure notification system that will be built into their smartphone operating systems, iOS and Android. The system uses the ubiquitous Bluetooth short-range wireless communication technology.
There are dozens of apps being developed around the world that alert people if they’ve been exposed to a person who has tested positive for COVID-19. Many of them also report the identities of the exposed people to public health authorities, which has raised privacy concerns. Several other exposure notification projects, including PACT, BlueTrace and the Covid Watch project, take a similar privacy-protecting approach to Apple’s and Google’s initiative.
I’ve always believed that universal broadband internet access is a human right – just as important as food, shelter and water – that when fulfilled, enables individuals to help themselves succeed in the information economy. As the COVID-19 pandemic moves us deeper into a digital world, accessing education, establishing and maintaining a livelihood, and obtaining government and other critical services are being forced online.
Under COVID-19, emerging technologies are propping up our daily lives. Connected devices enable both education and remote work. Chatbots provide life-saving information and relieve overwhelmed health systems. Location data applications track and map the spread of the virus for health workers and researchers.