May 20, 2020

The COVID App developers have been busy. Did you know there are more than 20 COVID-19 apps for your cell phone or tablet? Find them in your app store under coronavirus or under covid. Some are for personal use and some (mainly under development) are designed for national tracking projects. There are way too many for me to review in depth, but I took a quick look at what’s out there now and what’s on the way.

Personally, I don’t have any covid apps at this time. Here are the apps I use most often these days:

  • News: CNN,WSJ, NY Times, LA Times, OC Reg, BBC, USA Today.
  • Entertainment: IMDB, Words with Friends, Pandora, YouTube
  • Social: Zoom, Facetime, Instagram, Twitter, Gmail, FaceTime, Messages
  • Groceries: Instacart (in fact, I’m shopping right now!)

Here are some examples of COVID apps available now for individuals (DISCLAIMER: these are not recommendations. I haven’t looked at everything out there.) :

COVID-19 Tracing Trackers: These apps are being developed for use in recording and tracing COVID-19 in a population. The MIT Technology Review article referenced below describes the development of a covid tracing tracker database to keep track of the trackers. It lists 25 countries which are using/considering a tracker app in combination with testing as part of their public health plan for controlling the disease.

Use of a tracker may or may not be voluntary, depending on the country. It requires input of the individual’s COVID status and symptoms, plus it may record additional information which can then be gathered into aggregate data and used to track how the disease is spreading. When an individual tests positive, the app can notify recent contacts that they have been exposed. Countries using this kind of software include Australia, China, Iceland, Mexico, Germany, the UK, and others.

The United States is leaving the choice up to the individual states and they are moving slowly. This is understandable because the apps are still new and their success depends on people’s willingness to use them. One of the first states to move forward with app tracking, North Dakota (population 762,062), launched its own app, Care19, and also plans to use Apple-Google API to track COVID cases.

To get more information about how these trackers work, I recommend starting with the MIT article and looking up the ones that interest you. For example: Stop Corona! App https://stopcorona.app/ listed for Austria or CovidSafe https://covidsafe.cs.washington.edu/ listed for Australia or Stop Covid 19 app https://www.stopcovid.app/ listed for France.

You can also find detailed information about the use of trackers on Wikipedia under COVID-19 apps at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/COVID-19_apps

And please remember this is a fluid situation, so the decision any country (or state) might make about whether to use an app, which one to use, or how to use it can change at any time.

Today’s Notable Headlines

“COVID Tracing Tracker,” MIT Technology Review, May 7, 2020. https://www.technologyreview.com/2020/05/07/1000961/launching-mittr-covid-tracing-tracker/

“Why one US state will have two coronavirus tracing apps,” MIT Technology Review, May 20, 2020. https://www.technologyreview.com/2020/05/20/1002042/why-one-us-state-will-have-two-coronavirus-tracing-apps/

“New Jersey County Launches Coronavirus Resource App,” Burlington County Times, May 19, 2020. https://www.govtech.com/health/New-Jersey-County-Launches-Coronavirus-Resource-App.html

“Contact tracing apps are off to a slow start in the U.S.,” NBC News, AP, May 19, 2020. https://news.yahoo.com/contact-tracing-apps-off-slow-125900502.html

“Apple and Google Release Smartphone Technology to Notify People of Possible Coronavirus Exposure,” Time, AP, May 20, 2020. https://time.com/5839624/apple-google-coronavirus-exposure-technology/

“Why Google and Apple’s Contact Tracing System Just Might Work.” Popular Mechanics, May 20, 2020. https://news.yahoo.com/why-google-apples-contact-tracing-202600078.html

Why am I doing this?

The coronavirus pandemic will be indelibly written on our memories just as the Great Depression or the Battle of Britain left their mark on past generations. It is my intention to journal the events of these days from three perspectives: as a retired medical technologist, a historian (Ph.D., 2014), and an ordinary person living through an extraordinary crisis.

You are on History’s Edge.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s