RALEIGH – The spread of COVID-19 has not been slowly translated into an application, according to figures received by the North State Journal with about 540,000 downloads since its launch three months ago.
The NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) on September 22 released a state-of-the-art virus notification application called Slow GovtNC, which has been infectious for more than seven months. The application is designed to warn users if they come across someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
Within a week to two weeks of the app’s release, both Apple and Android users in North Carolina received push notifications from the Google Play Store and Apple iTunes Store.
Following the Bush announcement on Oct. 5, the North State Journal viewed the app’s download numbers on both Google State and Apple iTunes. At the time, Google only recorded 50,000 downloads and Apple had more than half the downloads.
Questions about the SlowCOVIDNC application, including downloads, data privacy, security and costs were sent to NCDHHS. Kelly Hyde Connor, NCDHS Communications Manager, responded to the North State Journal’s inquiries.
Oct from NCDHHS.
“Currently, 69 people have reported their positive test result to others. This application has sent a total of 421 exposure notifications to date,” Hyde replied.
Google’s downloads showed a total of “100,000+” downloads not mentioned until November 5th.
The North State Journal checked with NCDHS on December 14, and both download numbers and announcements increased. The application has now been downloaded more than 540,700 times. He said in an email to the North State Journal that 345 people had reported their positive test results to others and that the application had sent a total of 1,225 exposure notifications to date.
The number of North Carolina citizens who use the app is the same as in other states, according to a report Associated Press That includes data from 16 states, Guam and the District of Colombia. As of the end of November, the data revealed that only 8.1 million people had used communication notification applications such as SlowCOVIDNC. It translates to one in 14 of the 110 million people living in those regions.
“Virginia’s GovtWise application was launched on August 5th and went live. Since then, less than one in ten residents have downloaded it, although the government estimates that nearly 20% of Virgins between the ages of 18 and 65 do so via smartphone. Associated Press The report says.
Price tag of SlowCOVIDNC
In terms of cost, Hyde said the initial investment cost of Slow GovtNC was $ 360,000 with third-party support and monthly operating costs of $ 15,000. No potential fees for September are included, with a minimum of 000 45,000 operating costs to the state by the end of December.
The total cost divided by the current 540,700 downloads would be 34 1.34 per download.
“Apple and Google created the basic code for the app and made it available to public health officials at no cost, allowing us to customize the app to allow it to integrate seamlessly with our existing communication tracking infrastructure,” Hyde wrote.
When asked how long the application will be used or if there is an expiration date for its use, Hyde wrote that “the application will be available through the period of infection. He said the application will be shut down as soon as the epidemic is reported.
According to questions for use, NCDHS holds it. That right raised the question of what kind of data would be generated for NCDHHS.
According to NCDHS Sept. 22 News release, The application is “completely anonymous” and “does not collect, store or share personal information or location data.”
“The only data available from the app is anonymous, the total number of downloads, the number of tokens uploaded and the total number of times exposure notifications were sent,” Hyde wrote.
In SlowCOVIDNC specifications, the application relies on Bluetooth. Earlier this year, it was reported that Android phones were more vulnerable to hacking via Bluetooth. The North State Journal asked how the application protects user data.
“The site that created the app was deliberately built by the respective mobile operating system providers to ensure the integrity and security of the interface,” Hyde wrote.
Hyde mentions Google’s COVID19 Disclosure notices and privacy information It says “only public health officials can use this method.” Those authorities must meet “certain criteria surrounding privacy, security and data usage.”
“The system will not share your identity with other users, Apple or Google. Public health officials may ask for additional information, such as a phone number, to contact you for further guidance, ”reads the Google Disclosure Notice and Privacy Information page.
In his response to the Privacy Information, Hyde reiterated, “Slow CovidNC does not personally identify or collect or share location information, but shares information about the date of possible disclosures.”
He said SlowCOVIDNC would never access your location and that the exposure notification system was based on Bluetooth technology and did not collect any geolocation or GPS data.
Hyde further explained how the application works and keeps users anonymous.
“After selecting to receive notifications, the application will generate an anonymous token for your device. A token is a string of random letters that changes every 10-20 minutes and is never linked to your identity or location, but to a date. It protects your privacy and security, ”Hyde wrote. “Through Bluetooth, your phone and the phones around you will exchange these anonymous tokens every few minutes in the background of the SlowCOVIDNC application. Phones record how long they last Nearby Bluetooth signal strength of their transmissions to estimate each other and distance. ”
Application “Option” means one must choose to download and use the application. Additionally, once downloaded, a positive PIN can receive a unique PIN to submit to the application.
“This voluntary and anonymous report indicates that others who downloaded the app may have been in close contact with someone who tested positive in the last 14 days,” Hyde said in his response. “PINs will be issued to utility users who receive positive COVID-19 test results through the web-based PIN portal, by contacting the North Carolina Call Center’s community care or by contacting their local health department.”
According to Hyde, the SlowCOVIDNC application periodically downloads tokens from the server from the devices of users who have reported a positive test anonymously. The person’s phone uses its records to “calculate the risk with those tokens for signal strength and duration of exposure”. The application uses that information to determine if a person is meeting the gateway to receive an exposure notice.
For more information about the SlowCOVIDNC application, see https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/slowcovidnc/.
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