Colorado will be one of the first states to first use the new automatic app system.

It was announced last week by Colorado state officials that they were in a partnership with tech giants Apple and Google to provide cell phone services that aid in tracing COVID-19 exposure. 

In April, “Exposure Notifications Express” software programs aimed at helping with COVID-19 contact tracing work were rolled out by the two companies, and this latest announcement expands on those programs. The exposure notification technology helps state and local health authorities keep track of who has tested positive for the virus and who they have interacted with. The earlier versions of the software left a lot of work up to local departments.

The new partnership between the tech giants and states like Colorado is aimed at helping states with contact-tracing without having to develop individual standalone apps.

Gov. Jared Polis announced that Colorado would be in the group of states that are committed to using the new system, which is set to be deployed later this month. Maryland, Nevada, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., have already agreed to use the new service. 

The Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL) launched a national key server to allow a more streamlined process of sharing data between different state agencies and has expressed that it is a huge task to manage the coronavirus. They believe an app like this will be a great benefit to states in the fight.

The exposure notification is a voluntary service; if one enables the software on their phone, it will run in the background, exchanging information with others close by Bluetooth devices that have the software-enabled and are connected to Bluetooth. If someone who has the app-enabled tests positive for COVID-19, a push notification gets sent out to the devices that the phone interacted with to let them know they may have been exposed. No personal information is shared, and data will be stored for about two weeks then deleted. 

“As the next step in our work with public health authorities on Exposure Notifications, we are making it easier and faster for them to use the Exposure Notifications System without the need for them to build and maintain an app,” Apple and Google said in a statement. “Exposure Notifications Express provides another option for public health authorities to supplement their existing contact tracing operations with technology without compromising on the project’s core tenets of user privacy and security.”

The iOS version is built into iOS 13.7 and will be deployed this week in an update; the Android system will be live later this month. Polis says the app will be available before the September 27 Broncos game. Polis feels that this new system is one of the ways we can start to get back to normal in the state. 

Learn more about how it works here

How do you feel about contact-tracing through an app on cell phones? Are you comfortable having information shared in this fashion? We want to know what you think about this new service in the comments.