RALEIGH, N.C. — The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) says its ‘SlowCOVIDNC’ notification app will launch sometime in September, alerting users when they have come in contact with anyone positive for COVID.
The app will use Google and Apple’s Exposure Notification System in order to send alerts when someone has been in close contact with anyone who later tests positive for coronavirus, according to a news release.
“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 says the app will be anonymous and will not collect, store, or share personal information or location data.
The free SlowCOVIDNC app will be available to download voluntarily, and was created to assist North Carolina in keeping track of who has been diagnosed, according to a news release.
Officials say the app is still in the development stages, currently in Beta testing, and will be made available though the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.
Here’s how SlowCOVIDNC app will work:
1.) 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.
2.) 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.
3.) 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.
4.) 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.
5.) 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).
6.) 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.