For the first six months of the pandemic, the US lagged behind dozens of other countries in rolling out apps to alert citizens when they’ve come in contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19. But states are finally rolling out a wave of apps based on open-source software that has made their proliferation faster and cheaper.
Now people just need to download them.
The most recent additions to the canon are New York and New Jersey, which each launched apps on Oct. 1. By the next day, iPhone and Android users had installed the New York app about 250,000 times.
Since August, seven other US states and Guam have launched exposure notification apps. Four of them—New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania—were built using open-source code from the Linux Foundation Public Health (LFPH) initiative, which is freely available to any government that wants to crib from it to develop its own app. In September, Apple and Google announced an “exposure notification express” program to allow states to launch apps without doing any in-house coding at all.
Jenny Wanger, who works with LFPH to help US states get their coronavirus apps off the ground, says eight more state apps are likely to launch by the end of October. “They’re going to be able to do it at this point quite quickly and easily and cheaply,” she said, noting that states no longer need to hire developers to build new apps from scratch. “I would hope by the end of the year to see the majority of US states with exposure notification technology.”
All US state apps
Belgium has launched its coronavirus exposure notification app, “Coronalert,” on Wednesday, after several months of development with Apple and Google’s frameworks.
Belgium’s new “Coronalert” COVID-19 contact detection and tracing app is available to download starting on Wednesday. Like many others in circulation, the app utilizes the Apple-Google framework for exposure notifications and is available for both Apple and Android phones. The app was developed by Belgian companies DevSide and Ixor, and audited for security by NVISO.
Like many countries, Belgium uses the app to help alert users to high-risk exposures to those who have tested positive for COVID-19.
High-risk exposure is deemed as being within six feet or less of an infected person for a minimum of 15 minutes.
If a user of the app is infected with COVID-19, they can choose to alert anyone who has met the minimum threshold for high-risk exposure. This alert is anonymous and helps to supplement traditional contact tracing efforts.
The Belgium government strongly encourages all citizens to download the app if possible, as contract tracing apps only work if a sizable percentage of the population utilizes them.