DENVER (KDVR) — A new smart phone app will help users track possible exposure to the coronavirus. Governor Jared Polis announced the Exposure Notifications Express (EN Express) app will be available at the end of September.
The app can anonymously reveal whether you have been exposed to others who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 through markers that register when they are running the app as well.
The markers, called “tokens”, react between cellular phones via bluetooth connection.
The system does not include location, names, addresses or any other personal information. The EN Express app can be downloaded on android phones. Apple users will just need to turn the service on. Sarah Tuneberg of the Governor’s Coronavirus Innovation Response Team says privacy and security are a top priority.
“Your location is not tracked, not recorded, not ever logged, doesn’t get saved in any way shape or form,” she said.
Users who are diagnosed with COVID-19 can request an anonymous code that will enable them to participate in the system.
The Problem Solvers asked cyber security expert Mitch Tanenbaum of the Cybercecurity firm about safety guidelines users should keep in mind.
He says the app has built in security because the information is anonymous and doesn’t leave the user’s phone.
“There are only tokens, no names no contact information,” he said.
Tanenbaum emphasizes that it is important to consider that the tracking technology has an impressive range. “The software can’t tell if you are on the other side of a wall from somebody,” he said.
There is also a question of how many people actually decided to use the app and that could impact its effectiveness.
“We can’t even get 70 percent of people to wear masks,” Tanenbaum said.
The app is designed for smartphones. Tanenbaum points out that many in high risk groups do not own this type of phone and may find downloading the app to be a challenge.
“Who’s the most likely group of people to not have a smart phone? The high vulnerability people elderly people , lower income people,” he said. Many health organizations consider risky exposure to be within six feet of an infected person for 10 minutes or longer.
At least six other states are using a COVID-19 notification app. Colorado’s app will be free to anyone who wants to download or launch it.