The new coronavirus tracking system will not be functional for more than 2 billion mobile phone users

Apple and Google’s newly announced contact tracing system will remain unavailable for more than 2 billion users, all over the globe. According to Financial Times, the reason being that all these phones are either old or very basic sets, which are incompatible with this new tech.

It is not a hidden fact that Apple and Google are arch-enemies in normal circumstances, but due to the crisis that the world is now facing in the form of the coronavirus pandemic, they have collaborated and come up with the latest system for Android and iOS servers.

This system will help in tracking the novel coronavirus, and it works by tracking phones. The main idea is that a smartphone becomes a beacon for identification, with the help of Bluetooth and the Android or iOS server platforms.

In simple words, suppose person A meets person B and five days later, person A develops signs of COVID-19. If he gets the positive result and he logs his result into any application created by the public health authorities, then his phone’s server, be it Android or iOS, will become a beacon, it will send an alert to all the people he came in contact with over the last two weeks, and person B will also get a notification.

Now, this is all going to be done while maintaining the anonymity of person A, but although person B will not get any information about person A’s report or anything, the notification will be enough to alert him and instantly go for testing too.

China and Korea have used mobile tracking technologies to curb down and combat the COVID-19, but privacy was the cause of concern for many people. And rightly so.

Now Google and Apple have announced that they have incorporated some safeguards for privacy in their system. It is not going to collect any personally identifiable information, neither will it use any user location data, nor will there be a threat to the people who have been encountered.

It will just take the data if the affected person with COVID-19 will log his or her results in an app linked to Apple or Google’s systems, then the system will ask for the person’s consent before sending alerts to others.

This system is as novel as this deadly virus is, but it was nice to know that in these crucial times when the world is on its knees and everything else is pretty much collapsing, two technology rivals have joined hands to fight the common enemy - the coronavirus.

This contact tracing system is announced to be launched and become fully functional in a couple of months, but now there is another problem.

This system uses specific wireless chips and advanced software, which, unfortunately, are missing in more than 2 billion smartphones that people are using all over.

This threatens the success rate of this application because many people who still have those old smartphones will not be able to make use of this new system. As a result, many cases will still go unnoticed and the danger of people getting infected will remain still.

Let us wait and watch how both these technological giants come up with a way to deal with this issue now.

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