This fall, the University of Washington plans to test smartphone technology that tells users if they may have been exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19.
Depending on how that pilot program goes, it could become available throughout Washington, said state Department of Health (DOH) spokesperson Cory Portner.
The Exposure Notifications System for iPhones and Android phones uses Bluetooth technology developed by Apple and Google to detect proximity to other phones. If someone who has enabled these notifications tests positive, they can anonymously and confidentially notify other users who have been within 6 feet of them.
“If you opt in to use the app and receive notification that you’ve been potentially exposed, the message will help you connect with public health to get recommendations on next steps,” DOH spokesperson Jamie Nixon said.
The design is aimed at preserving privacy by not collecting location data or sharing users’ identities, which might