Technology/App to support COVID-19 response (videos)
As part of its relaunch strategy, the Government of Alberta has launched a voluntary, secure mobile contact tracing application to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Quick tracing and containment of outbreaks is critical as the province works to gradually relaunch the economy. The ABTraceTogether app will enhance the current manual tracing process and help Albertans protect themselves and their loved ones.
“Our efforts to flatten the curve are proving to be effective, but we must continue to remain vigilant. Each one of us has a responsibility to do our part in the fight against COVID-19. ABTraceTogether was designed to help protect Albertans and prevent community spread by quickly alerting people who may be at risk. The more Albertans who use it, the better we will be able to protect individuals from being unknowingly exposed and possibly spreading the disease. Give it a try, and encourage your family and friends to do the same. By working together, we can tackle this pandemic.” Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Chief Medical Officer of Health
Contact tracing is currently performed by interviewing patients who have tested positive for COVID-19, which is resource intensive and has limitations on its effectiveness as it relies on the patient’s memory. Through wireless Bluetooth technology, mobile contact tracing will complement the work of health-care workers and drastically speed up the current manual tracing process. This means Albertans will be contacted more quickly if they are at risk.
Protecting Albertans’ privacy is paramount. Use of the app is voluntary, and users must opt-in. Only your phone number is collected at the time of registering the app. The application does not track the user’s location and does not use your GPS. Data is only stored on the user’s phone in an encrypted format for 21 days only. Users must consent to sharing their data if they have tested positive for COVID-19. The only information shared with contact tracers is a random ID of those identified as close contacts after a user is diagnosed with COVID-19 – nothing identifiable is exchanged between phones. Users must be within two metres from each other for a total duration of 15 minutes in a 24-hour period in order to be notified as a close contact.
The application is part of the Government of Alberta’s Relaunch Strategy to safely begin to remove public health restrictions and reopen our economy. Existing public health measures remain in place to stop the spread of COVID-19. For more information, visit alberta.ca/covid-19.
Alberta Health submitted a privacy impact assessment to the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta (OIPC), which is currently being reviewed. Upon OIPC acceptance, Alberta Health will make a summary of the privacy impact assessment publicly available.
The most important measure Albertans can take to prevent respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19, is to practise good hygiene.
This includes cleaning your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds, avoiding touching your face, coughing or sneezing into your elbow or sleeve, and disposing of tissues appropriately.
Any individual exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, including cough, fever, runny nose, sore throat or shortness of breath, is eligible for testing. People can access testing by completing the COVID-19 self-assessment online. A separate self-assessment tool is available for health-care and shelter workers, enforcement and first responders. After completing the form, there is no need to call 811.
Provincial Press Release May 1, 2020 @ 4:00 PM