Washington | Jagran Technology Desk: At a time when the whole world is battling the dreadful coronavirus, Google and Apple have launched a software that will help public health agencies make their Bluetooth-based COVID-19 apps effective while protecting user privacy.

In a joint statement, the two tech giants said that 23 countries have requested and received access to the application programming interface (API), with more expected to join in the coming weeks.

“Starting today, our Exposure Notifications technology is available to public health agencies on both iOS and Android. What we've built is not an app — rather public health agencies will incorporate the API into their own apps that people install,” the two companies said.

The two tech giants further said that the users will get to decide whether or not to opt-in to Exposure Notifications and the system does not collect or use location from the device.

“If a person is diagnosed with COVID-19, it is up to them whether or not to report that in the public health app. User adoption is key to success and we believe that these strong privacy protections are also the best way to encourage use of these apps,” they said.

The companies said that the ‘Exposure Notification’ system can augment that process and slow the spread of COVID-19 by virus carriers “who are interacting with strangers” and “aren’t yet showing symptoms”.

They further said that the users will be able to download the software on most Androids and iPhone models released since September 2015, adding that the identity of app users will be protected by encryption and anonymous identifier beacons.

The software will allow the iPhones and Android users to detect each other and solve technical challenges that governments have had in building Bluetooth-based apps.

“User adoption is key to success and we believe that these strong privacy protections are also the best way to encourage use of these apps,” the companies said.

The technology will “is the result of feedback the joint project team received from hundreds of conversations over the past five weeks with PHAs, NGOs, academics, government officials and privacy experts in America and dozens of countries across five continents” and it will allow PHAs to define what constitutes an exposure event and will allow them to determine the number of exposure events an individual has had.

“The API will allow PHAs to factor transmission risk of positive cases into their definition of an exposure event and a combination of the API and data that users voluntarily choose to input into the app allows PHAs to contact exposed users,” the companies said.

Exposure Notification has the specific goal of rapid notification, which is especially important to slowing the spread of the disease with a virus that can be spread asymptomatically.

On April 10, Google and Apple announced a joint effort to enable the use of Bluetooth technology to help governments and health agencies reduce the spread of COVID-19 through contact tracing, with user privacy and security core to the design.

Both the companies provided developers with new resources to help them make exposure notification apps, including user interfaces (UI) and sample code for both iOS and Android.

(With IANS inputs)

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma