Canada and Ontario have done a lot of things right during the COVID-19 pandemic. They’ve now moved to another level – there’s an app for that.

COVID Alert is an Android/iOS application that exchanges codes between your phone and others nearby using Bluetooth so no data or wifi is required.

Applications like this are actually kind of common if you search for them. As always, I’m a bit leery about letting an application have privileges to access my location and other personal information.

After all, I’ve watched enough episodes of Law and Order to see how they triangulate the bad people via cell phone towers. We live in a world where so many downloaded applications want to know your location, your friends, etc. I think most of us have just become resigned to the fact that it’s a necessity if you, say, want to open up a mapping application and have it plot a route from where you are to where you want to go.

But when it also comes to your health information, that raises the ante a bit.

Of course, there’s the standard denial that the application doesn’t track you. From the Government of Canada website:

Reading the complete information makes you feel good about this. And, it’s confirmed independently.

Canadian privacy watchdogs support COVID-19 exposure app

The only glitch, and it’s a biggy, is that the application requires a relatively new version of your smartphone’s operating system. In the same article, it indicates that 1.18 million Canadians have downloaded the application.

I’m one of them.

In the beginning, it was just from curiosity to see what it looked like and how it worked. The more I read about it, the more I think it’s a good idea. I wear a mask when out and can’t distance but that’s to protect others. I stay at home and that’s to protect everyone. On those rare occasions that I’m out and about, it would be nice to know that I didn’t come in close proximity with someone with the virus.

From my perspective, some things have to fall into place to make this effective. These are not trivial things.

  • we need more people using the application. 1.18 million people is a start but just a drop in the bucket, even if it’s only available in Ontario at the present time
  • people need to be honest and enter the code if they unfortunately are diagnosed so that the application can warn others

There really is a nice feeling to see this…

At this point, it’s voluntary to use it. I hope that it’s only necessary for a short time until we come to grips with the virus. We’re still not there; news this morning indicate that our area will remain in Stage 2.

We’re on the verge of the back to school activity for students. Particularly at the secondary school level, that includes going out for lunch, meeting friends before and after school, etc. Of course, we’ll advise them not to do this but they will. You know they will. If I had a son or daughter that would be going back to that environment, I think I’d be getting them to put the application on their phone and celebrate the no contact screen every night.

We’ve come a long with with all this and back to school comes around the time that we’re being told to expect a second surge. This makes a sensible addition to your toolbox.

I’ve talked to a few people whose opinions and insights I value and they seem to be on the same page as me. A couple have drawn a harder line indicating that they think it should be mandatory.

What about you? Have you installed the application or do you intend to?

OTR Links 08/05/2020

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.