John Galea's Blog

My blog on Gadgets and the like

Canada’s COID alert app

The federal and provincial governments are encouraging us all to load this app onto our phones. A number of employers have gone to far as to mandate it be loaded on corporate devices. So what is this app, how does it work? It uses bluetooth and signal strengths to record and estimate who has been close to you. If a person tests positive for COVID they inform the app and it in turn informs people that have been close to the infected person. Sounds good, but let’s get into some details … The app has been heavily focused on people’s privacy. This means the data in the app, and what it shares with you is severely limited. Ok, so you get an alert from the app, oh crap now what? Well here is what you get informed.

So what you get from this is that some time in the last two weeks, you were near someone, somewhere for 15 minutes or more. Ok well that’s pretty vague. So now what? Well you need to go get tested according to the app. So you go online, find a testing center near you get screened by a doctor over the phone, book an appointment and go get tested. Then the waiting game starts. All the while you are encouraged to self isolate. But wait, who do you inform? Your employer, anyone you have been near in the last two weeks? And do they self isolate? Well at the testing center they tell you you will be contacted if your positive or your results will be online if negative. So you check … and check, and even if the results are returned quickly it can seem like an eternity. And in Ontario the web site takes a LOT of patience as it asks you to type a lot of data to prove you are who you say you are. And one mistake and your typing it all again. And anyone you told is now themselves concerned. And remember, just because you were near someone for more than 15 minutes that has since tested positive it doesn’t mean you are infected. Let’s not forget that if we are being smart we are wearing masks, washing hands and social distancing, something the app has no way of knowing.

And finally the results come back, negative, phew. Now what? Are you past the possible incubation period? Remember you have only a vague reference in time. And as infection rates rise, especially for people in certain roles, this app is going to trigger frequently.

So all in all, I have to say the app is a good idea in principle, but given it’s current lack of refined data back as to when you were near this infected person it’s usefulness is somewhat limited. And I wonder how many people are going to get needlessly tested, and be put under added stress unnecessarily awaiting test results? And once this app alerts once, on then second alert will you go get tested again? Or will you give up and uninstall it?

So as you may have already read between the lines, yes this happened in my household.

October 29, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment