The first public version of their exhibition notification API was released today by Apple and Google, which was first introduced as a joint contact-tracking tool. The partners later changed the name to the system for exposure notification to reflect its functionality more accurately, which is intended to advise people of potential exposures to others who have confirmed cases of COVID-19 while preserving the privacy of information and location data identification.
Today’s launch means public health agencies will now be able to utilize the API is publicly available apps. To date, only beta versions from the API have been released to assist in the development of Apple and Google.
This launch specifically means that the developers who work with public health authorities will now generate applications that use it – the exposure alerts or touch monitoring apps are not produced by Apple and Google. The companies say that the several United States and 22 countries on the five continents have already requested and provided access to the API to support their growth efforts and anticipate further growth. In recent years, Apple and Google have been advocating with public health authorities, epidemiologists, and software developers on their behalf in over 24 conferences and technical discussions.
The API Exposure Notification works with a decentralized system of identification that uses temporary key randomly generated on a user device (not linked to its specific identification or information). The Apple and Google API allow public services to define the potential exposure to time and distance and to tweak the risk of transmission and other factors by themselves.
Apple and Google will also allow applications to utilize a combination of the user data they provide through individual apps and the APIs to make exposed users aware of the steps they need to take, through individual applications, to contact the public health authorities directly.
Throughout the creation of the API, Apples and Google have enhanced their privacy and encrypted all Bluetooth metadata (such as signal strength and specific power of transmission) as they could be used to assess which device type has been used and offers a slim possibility to connect a person to a specific device.
The companies have also explicitly prevented the use of the API in all applications which also require user permission to access geolocal data — meaning certain applications being developed for contact tracking by public health officials that do not access the Exposure Notification API using geolocation data.
The following joint API statement was submitted by Apple and Google; Contact tracing is one of the most efficient techniques used during outbreaks by public health officials. Through this strategy, public health authorities are contacting, monitoring, treating, and counseling individuals who have been affected. Exposure notifications are a new element to track contacts: using digital technology that preserves privacy to tell someone they have become subject to the virus.
In a subsequent update of each of their respective mobile operating systems, the companies announced plans to make the Exposure Notification a device feature, to be released later this year. However, as Google and Apple said, they continue to talk to the public health authorities about the System-level features they will use in the development of their COVID 19 mitigation strategies, that “Phase two” of the strategy could be revised.