I inevitably forget that I have a New York COVID-19 exposure notification application

In April, Apple and Google Announced They have teamed up to develop a Bluetooth low-power contact tracking system to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Last week – five months later – in New York, where I live, introduced a computer-based application called COVID Alert NY. Following the news of its development, several months after seeing the release of the applications In other states, I was glad to have the option to use it myself. I downloaded it and put it in a folder on my iPhone – I immediately forgot about it.

Communication tracking is an important public health tool during such an outbreak. It usually takes manual detective work: public health officials find anyone exposed to someone with COVID-19 and warn them. They ask for testing or isolation in an effort to prevent the virus from spreading. The goal of an application like COVID Alert NY is to help automate that process. Applications Cannot be changed Fixed, manual contact tracking, but in theory, they can enhance it by flagging exposures to the virus.

The COVID alert explains how NY exposure notices work.

But such applications only work if a lot of people download them. Unscientific study of the answers of Andrew Cuomo, Government of New York Tweet It does not inspire confidence about the application. Dozens of people doubted the guarantees that the location was not actually tracked. COVID Alert NY was downloaded just days after the application was launched More than 300,000 times, But there are about 20 million people living in the state.

The chance that even someone under six feet of me at the grocery store has the utility is now very low. But my apartment building has released a flyer about the app, and friends tell me that they have heard about it in news alerts and on Facebook groups. More and more people may start using it, but it is still difficult to know whether they will log in enough to start affecting the spread of the virus.

Despite that lingering question, the app is easy to use. It does a good job of explaining how the system works (via Bluetooth, you should use the app) and what information it actually collects (it pinges random codes between phones within six feet of each other for more than 10 minutes). If you test positive for COVID-19, the Public Health Officer may ask you if you have an application and if you would like access to codes shared with your phone. If you say yes, notification that phones may be infected with the virus and Date of that revelation.

The application also provides a clear description of the permissions required before requesting the application. Wants to sense nearby phones and send notifications if your phone has a list of codes from someone with COVID-19. IPhone pop-ups where you agree to those permissions will only appear after hitting “Next” on the screen, explaining what is going to happen.

The application explains why it asks for some permissions from your phone.

In practice it is not clear whether it is based on Google and Apple’s system. The description in the Apple App Store explains that relationship, but if you haven’t read it, it’s easy to miss it. Even if you know that technology companies are developing a communication tracking system, if you are asked to download this application from the state of New York, it is easy to think that they are two separate things.

I have only opened COVID Alert NY a few times since I downloaded it last week. I don’t need to do anything for the app to pick up Bluetooth signals; It goes along with the background. It has some additional functions, however it may be useful: it shows the state’s COVID-19 case numbers and percentage positive rate, and that data can also be verified by the county. It also gives users the opportunity to report any physical symptoms of COVID-19 anonymously. Symptom monitoring One way for public health officials Can be tracked The spread of a disease.

But I don’t usually fill out the form because I don’t usually use the app. There is no way to set an alert to remind me to submit my symptoms, which is a good thing. Not me To COVID Alert View any notifications from NY. Ideally, this would have been buried in the last screen of my phone for the duration of the epidemic, from which I would not hear anything.

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