Pennsylvania gears up to launch COVID app based on Apple-Google framework

Posted:
in General Discussion edited August 2020
Pennsylvania will launch its own coronavirus exposure notification app in September using the Apple-Google framework.

Pennsylvania State Capitol Building
Pennsylvania State Capitol Building


On Tuesday, Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine announced that the app would be called "COVID Alert PA," and assured Pennsylvanians that it would not compromise a user's identity or location. The app is limited to users age 18 and over.

The state has a $1.9 million contract with software developer NearForm Ltd, an Ireland-based company responsible for Ireland's "COVID Tracker Ireland" app. NearForm will deploy and maintain the app with the state.

COVID Alert PA will be interoperable with neighboring state Delaware's app, as well as two other states yet to be named, according to 6 ABC.

"The app is about Pennsylvanians helping Pennsylvanians, it's about as a community being able to let each other know and track each other's exposure so we can keep each other safe," said Health Department spokesperson April Hutcheson.

The app will notify people who have potentially been exposed to the coronavirus and uses the Centers for Disease Control guideline of being within six feet for at least 15 minutes.

Those who test positive in Pennsylvania will be reported to the Department of Health or a local agency. A case investigator will ask if the person wishes to use the app to alert anyone who may be at risk of exposure within the last 14 days.

If they are willing to help, anyone who has downloaded the app and exposed to the infected individual will get an alert informing them of their potential risk. They will also be given information on how to protect themselves and others, including instructions on how to stay home and seek medical help.

There will be no way for a user to know the identity of the person they were exposed to.

Apple and Google have collaborated to make a framework that can be used by app developers to help keep track of coronavirus cases through a process called "digital contract tracing."

The framework has been designed to allow different apps to interact with each other easily. This is especially important in places like the United States and Europe, where individuals may freely travel between regions.

The framework uses a device's onboard Bluetooth hardware to keep tabs on whom the owner comes into close proximity with. Specifically, Bluetooth identifiers are exchanged and saved locally.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 8
    Come on New York get  on board with this app.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 8
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 5,005member
    Why is PA using tax payers money to pay an Irish company to do what many US developers can do.

    I'm also not interested hearing about someone who passed me in the grocery store who tested positive days later and now I have to go seek medical attention. This kind of notifications is just going to drive people crazy. 

    My sister-in-law who is nurse is notified any time patient the Dr office saw recently has tested positive, and she tells everyone in the family she has seen, and just freaks everyone out. She supposedly been directly exposed to patients 3 times, and she has never tested positive nor test positive for antibodies.

    This is more about making people afraid than anything else.
    edited August 2020
  • Reply 3 of 8
    fred1fred1 Posts: 829member
    Correction: it’s not “ The app will notify people who have potentially been exposed to the coronavirus . . .”
    but rather: 
    The app will notify people who have potentially been exposed to people who are using the app and have been confirmed to have the coronavirus and have updated their information on the app to show this.

    There’s a big difference. 
    gatorguywatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 8
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 10,264member
    No thanks....
     
    We have ineffective half-assed testing
    We have ineffective half assed tracing
    and now we have an ineffective half assed computer app that only the most concerned and conscientious --  a handful --- will use.  Geez!  We're still debating masks!

    It's no wonder that we're #1!
  • Reply 5 of 8
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,170member
    maestro64 said:

    I'm also not interested hearing about someone who passed me in the grocery store who tested positive days later and now I have to go seek medical attention. This kind of notifications is just going to drive people crazy
    You don't know how it works? In order for you to receive a notification you must have been within 6 feet of a verified infected person for at least 15 minutes. Passing by someone would not be registered so you're saved from all those notifications that would make you crazy.

    Not wanting to be aware that you had an extended exposure period with someone tested and verified to have an active infection sounds pretty silly to me. At least you'd know and then it's up to you to decide whether to act on that information or not. 
  • Reply 6 of 8
    lostkiwilostkiwi Posts: 633member
    gatorguy said:
    maestro64 said:

    I'm also not interested hearing about someone who passed me in the grocery store who tested positive days later and now I have to go seek medical attention. This kind of notifications is just going to drive people crazy
    You don't know how it works? In order for you to receive a notification you must have been within 6 feet of a verified infected person for at least 15 minutes. Passing by someone would not be registered so you're saved from all those notifications that would make you crazy.

    Not wanting to be aware that you had an extended exposure period with someone tested and verified to have an active infection sounds pretty silly to me. At least you'd know and then it's up to you to decide whether to act on that information or not. 
    15 minutes?  Interesting, in the Apple/Google graphic it mentioned 10 minutes and I have heard reports the cut off point is actually 5 minutes (I can't find them now).
    But, like you said the main thing is it won't create alerts for everybody you pass on the street.
    edited August 2020 watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 8
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,170member
    lostkiwi said:
    gatorguy said:
    maestro64 said:

    I'm also not interested hearing about someone who passed me in the grocery store who tested positive days later and now I have to go seek medical attention. This kind of notifications is just going to drive people crazy
    You don't know how it works? In order for you to receive a notification you must have been within 6 feet of a verified infected person for at least 15 minutes. Passing by someone would not be registered so you're saved from all those notifications that would make you crazy.

    Not wanting to be aware that you had an extended exposure period with someone tested and verified to have an active infection sounds pretty silly to me. At least you'd know and then it's up to you to decide whether to act on that information or not. 
    15 minutes?  Interesting, in the Apple/Google graphic it mentioned 10 minutes and I have heard reports the cut off point is actually 5 minutes (I can't find them now).
    But, like you said the main thing is it won't create alerts for everybody you pass on the street.
    I think the 5 minutes you remember is the minimum time between bluetooth scans. That's different than the registering of an extended contact.

    • Discovered Exposure Notification Service advertisements shall be kept on the device.
    • Scan results shall be timestamped and RSSI-captured per broadcast.
    • The scanning interval and window shall have sufficient coverage to discover nearby Exposure Notification Service advertisements within 5 minutes.
    • The scanning strategy that works best is opportunistic (leveraging existing wakes and scan windows) and with minimum periodic sampling every 5 minutes. 
    edited August 2020
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