Answered: All Your Questions on the COVID-19 Contact Tracing Apps
With the coronavirus pandemic came a fair share of hoaxes, fake news, and fear
mongers on the rise. Thankfully, things are starting to normalize right now. We are far
from where we want to be globally, but we are not where we used to be anymore.
To hasten this process are an innovation called contact tracing apps.
If you have also been hearing about them, they are as real as can be. Today, we
discuss the remarkable things that you should know about these apps before they come
What is Contact Tracing Apps?
As the name implies, these are apps designed to identify and track down the set of
people who might have come into contact with an infected person.
The apps help ensure that infected persons do not spread the disease to others before
they start showing symptoms.
For a virus like the COVID-19, which has an incubation period of up to fourteen (14)
days, that is very important. After all, asymptotic carriers are spreading the virus to
others without even knowing that they have been infected too.
For these apps to get engaged, a positive case needs to be identified. From there, the
app is worked backward, pinging other individuals who have been near the identified
case from the time when they got infected.
How Effective Are These Apps?
This is a question that will be better answered when the pandemic is over.
Contact tracing is not new since this is not the first pandemic that the world will face.
However, this is the first time we will see the digital models of the same procedure being
used. Thus, we can say that the manual contract tracing is more evidence-based than
That would explain why states like California and New York have decided to engage
thousands of manual contact tracers rather than subject to the use of these apps.
Are There Downsides to Contact Tracing Apps?
Depending on how you look at it, there are considerable downsides to look at here.
For one, these apps need smartphones to work. This means that the population without
a smartphone will not benefit from the contact tracing techniques. In regions of the world
where the rural areas are mostly undeveloped, leaving things to contact tracing apps
could be very disastrous.
Even those that have a smartphone might be running older hardware or software.
Seeing as devices will need to leverage Bluetooth and Wi-Fi technology, such obsolete
hardware/ software might not be enough to cut the requirements of these apps.
That said, we should also consider the privacy coefficient of these apps.
A recent ExpressVPN survey shows that as much as 84% of respondents believe the
government might invade citizens; private data using the apps. About 79% of these
people also share concerns that tech companies are not left out of making such moves.
It is not even helping matters that Apple and Google have agreed that there won’t be
any central data storage facility for this data. The unique model that these apps will
work on also causes the automatic destroying of the data collected on the user’s device
after about 21 days.
But then, will that translate into trust for the people? Knowing fully well that these same
tech companies could find a way to extract the data that they want anyway.
The Way Forward
This is not the time for tests, and, undoubtedly, the people aren't even as trusting of how
the data from these apps will be used.
The world needs to be given more time to decide on whether or not it wants these apps.
Forced on them, the results might not go the way we want.