The government of Canada is encouraging Canadians to download the COVID Alert App for smartphones.
After being rolled out in Ontario and Quebec, all other provinces have joined the initiative, with British Colombia and Nova Scotia expected to be online in the near future.
The COVID Alert App works by using your smartphone’s Bluetooth connection, without storing or sharing any sensitive information. The app has been vetted and approved by the Office of the Privacy Commission (OPC) and the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario (IPC).
When an individual test positive for COVID-19, they are given a unique code to enter into the app, which notifies any contacts of a potential exposure. That person would then be encouraged to get tested, or self-isolate.
An explainer video made by the Government of Canada, which has spent $10 million on a public awareness campaign about the app.
As case numbers continue to increase nationwide, contact tracing becomes more difficult. The widespread use of the COVID Alert App has the potential to ease the strain on provincial contact tracing systems, which has recently re-purposed over 500 federal Stats Canada employees.
“Ideally, at least 60% of Canadians need to download the app for it to be effective enough to combat transmission of the virus.”Eric Caire, Quebec’s Minister for Digital Transformation
The COVID Alert App is based off a platform developed by Apple and Google’s Exposure Alert System, which allows governments to develop a national app using their infrastructure. Many countries around the world have developed nationwide apps, while others have pushed the idea aside based on privacy concerns.