North Carolina is about to become one of the first states in the nation to launch a comprehensive COVID-19 tracing app.
According to a press release by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, the new app is called ‘SlowCOVIDNC’, and it will use your phone’s tracking and notification systems to alert you if have been in close contact with a positive COVID-19 carrier.
“The SlowCOVIDNC app builds on our ongoing efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 across the state. By proactively notifying app users of potential exposure to the virus, people can act quickly to protect themselves, their loved ones and their communities,” said Sam Gibbs, NCDHHS Deputy Secretary of Technology and Operations.
NCDHHS is developing a COVID-19 Exposure Notification app called ‘SlowCOVIDNC’ that will launch across the state in September 2020.
— NCDHHS (@ncdhhs) September 4, 2020
Once the app is released, here is how it will work:
- Download the free SlowCOVIDNC Exposure Notification app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store and enable Bluetooth and Exposure Notifications. Bluetooth must be on for the app to work.
- After opting-in to receive notifications, the app will generate an anonymous token for the device. A token is a string of random letters which changes every 10-20 minutes and is never linked to identity or location. This protects app user privacy and security.
- Through Bluetooth, phones with the SlowCOVIDNC app work in the background (minimizing battery) to exchange these anonymous tokens every few minutes. Phones record how long they are near each other and the Bluetooth signal strength of their exchanges in order to estimate distance.
- If an app user tests positive for COVID-19, the individual may obtain a unique PIN to submit in the app. This voluntary and anonymous reporting notifies others who have downloaded the app that they may have been in close contact with someone in the last 14 days who has tested positive.
- PINs will be provided to app users who receive a positive COVID-19 test result by contacting the Community Care of North Carolina (CCNC) call center, through a web-based portal, or by contacting their Local Health Department (LHD).
- SlowCOVIDNC periodically downloads tokens from the server from the devices of users who have anonymously reported a positive test. Phones then use records of the signal strength and duration of exposures with those tokens to calculate risk and determine if an app user has met a threshold to receive an Exposure Notification
You can find out more information about the app on the NCDHHS’s website here.