The federal government plans to spend up to $10 million on a public awareness campaign to boost downloads of the COVID Alert exposure notification app.
The news comes as the app surpasses 1.5 million downloads accumulated since its official launch on July 31st.
“Federal promotion efforts, which will include advertising and outreach to key stakeholders, will complement efforts to promote the app by each province and territory as they roll out the app,” Digital Government Minister Joyce Murray told The Logic in an interview.
At the time of writing, COVID Alert could be downloaded nationwide, but only Ontario issued the one-time codes used by the app to warn users of potential exposure to COVID-19. Murray told The Logic she expects all the provinces and territories will eventually join. Further, Murray noted that Atlantic Canada would likely start participating shortly.
In March, the federal government committed $30 million to an ad campaign informing people about personal hygiene and social-distancing measures to limit the spread of the virus.
For those unfamiliar with COVID Alert, the app uses Apple and Google’s Exposure Notification API, software developed to support public health apps and perform exposure notification services across Android and iOS smartphones. At a basic level, apps built on the system use Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) to transmit unique, non-identifying codes. Each smartphone stores a local list of these codes, an anonymous record of potential exposure.
When someone tests positive for COVID-19, they receive a one-time code they submit through COVID Alert, which allows them to upload the local list. Then, other smartphones with COVID Alert can check the list for matching numbers. If it finds a match, the app warns the smartphone owner that they were potentially exposed to someone with COVID-19.
It’s important to note that the COVID Alert app doesn’t collect or use data, and it’s anonymous. Because of that, COVID Alert is not a contact tracing app — by nature, contact tracing requires personal details. As such, local health authorities will continue to perform manual contact tracing.
Source: The Logic
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