DENVER (CBS4) – In a matter of weeks, Coloradans will be able to see if they’ve been in contact with another Coloradan who tested positive for coronavirus – that’s if both parties download a new app. Gov. Jared Polis announced the new technology at a news conference on Tuesday.
EN Express is free, and state officials stress it is anonymous and it does not collect your health data or personal information. It will be installed on Apple phones in the next software upgrade, and Android users will have to download it.
The app will not start tracking until you give it authority.
Sarah Tuneberg, Innovation Response Team Lead for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, says the app comes after a partnership with both Google and Apple.
“As you move through the world, anonymous tokens will be exchanged between your phone and another phone,” she said.
HERE’S HOW IT WORKS
When two people meet who’ve both opted into the app and they practice appropriate social distancing and mask wearing, their phones are exchanging anonymous tokens via Bluetooth. Those tokens are stored anonymously on a public health server.
If one of those people start to feel ill and learn they have tested positive for COVID-19, they will get a code/key from their local public health agency to enter into their phone. The key will then notify anyone who opted in and who had contact with the patient.
“All of those tokens then send a message back to the phones that they were generated on and give people a little push notification that says ‘Hey, look, you might have been exposed. Call your local public health agency,'” said Tuneberg.
Those who get a phone notification will then be given instructions on what to do next, including testing, isolation and quarantine.
“As we’re doing more things like the Broncos, and ski season and schools coming back online … this reopening behavior, we want to have all the tools in the toolbox that we can,” said Polis. “The more people download this and use this, the quicker we can get back to normal.”
State officials say they’ve studied and researched other states and countries which have rolled out this technology. They add the technology comes at no cost to the state.