Shopify and BlackBerry to develop a COVID-19 Contact Tracing App
Canada looks to engage both companies to develop a new app using Bluetooth and launch it towards the end of July 2020. Where in the USA Apple and Google are partnered to pull their resources and deliver a contact tracing app, Shopify and BlackBerry are Canada’s big-tech hitters to take on the challenge.
Much like the rest of the "Western World" where privacy and security are paramount when using your smartphone out in public spaces, the tracing app not only could lead to battery drainage but also open the door for data/security breaches of your personal information as the Bluetooth roams the surrounding smartphones to record and log bystanders running the same app. The roaming can add some vulnerability, as well as the data that is transmitted between devices.
The OS (Operating System) has to provide a way to operate an app for contact tracing – an API (Application Programming Interface) has been developed by Google and Apple in record time. Settings in your smartphone called “Exposure Notifications” have been implemented so that apps can then engage with the API, Bluetooth, and record contacts made. Ultimately, the user has to turn on this feature, select, and download the government recommended app. This public health Agency app gives the user the choice of whether or not to report their COVID-19 positive diagnosis.
Canadian Health Priority
Canada has reached just over 100K COVID-19 cases according to the WHO. It only represents individuals that have a reason to go out and get tested, where asymptomatic citizens most likely can carry the virus without any knowledge. The App is being developed will bridge the gap with proximity/exposure data to further understand the transmission exposure and movements of the virus.
The USA has been leading the charge on the architecture of the Operating System’s management and API, as well as the App’s expected functionality such that USA data privacy and security are respected and adhere to USA Laws. The United Kingdom had a centralized system of capturing data, however, usability shortcoming (Phone always ON) and data structure issues that did not meet privacy/security standards did an about-turn to adopt the Apple/Google model. In the APAC region, Singapore has launched its TraceTogether App for the public to use and trace exposures. India has put out its own App called Aarogya Setu by the Indian government and it is requiring employers and staff to download it and enable its operation.
It is refreshing to see that even in the eCommerce space, large players like Shopify and a smartphone incumbent such as BlackBerry band together to deliver solutions for contact tracing. In the hopes that data can help us learn, and map out the resurgence of the COVID-19 virus as the seasons change so that local governments can respond and set the appropriate policy to keep it from spreading and keep the vulnerable safe.