Launched at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Coronavirus-SUS app received an important update last Friday (31). The app will now notify users who are close to someone infected.
The feature called virus exposure notification was announced by the Ministry of Health, and will send alerts to users, in order to detect new cases early. The function is now available for Android users and will soon also come to iOS.
In Brazil, the application has 10 million users, and the notification of exposure is the result of collaboration between Apple and Google, who developed an API to combat the pandemic, which was offered exclusively to health authorities around the world, with some requirements, such as not collecting location data, storing data locally and not using targeted advertising. Thus, there is no way to find out who was the infected person with whom users had contact.
The tracking is done via Bluetooth of the cell phone, and happens when two devices with the app installed approach. Thus, they exchange encrypted keys, which have an anonymous catalog of people who approached users for two weeks and, if any of these are diagnosed with the new coronavirus, she reports the case in the application, and other users will be alerted about a possible virus exposure.
It is worth mentioning that the notification is completely voluntary and, so that there are no abuses in the system and false notifications, the application requests a token issued by the Ministry of Health, generated by the validation of a PCR or serological exam. The app considers time and distance to classify possible exposures.
To do this, it was necessary to minimize false alerts, as this could lead users to ignore notifications. In this way, the app takes into account contacts that have lasted at least 5 minutes and a short distance, up to 2 meters, which can be calculated by the strength of the Bluetooth signal. The notification will inform that it is a prevention, and it does not exactly mean that the alerted person is infected, but rather a way to alert to the appearance of symptoms that, if they existed, can be an indication to test and isolate yourself to avoid spread of the virus.