The State of Maryland launched their contact tracing app last week – MD COVID Alert. This new technology alerts residents if someone they have come in contact with recently tested positive for the coronavirus, and it does so while protecting your privacy. The Department of Health has provided the following instructions for residents to download the app:
How it works
To reduce the spread of COVID-19, MD COVID Alert uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology to quickly notify users who may have been exposed to COVID-19.
For iPhones: Go to Settings and Turn On Exposure Notifications. Opt-in and select your region as Maryland and complete the onboarding as needed. Apple users will also receive proactive notifications alerting you when Exposure Notifications are available.
For Android Devices: The MD COVID Alert app is available on Google Play. The Play Store may notify you when the app is available. You can also search for “MD COVID Alert” directly on the Play Store.
Once you opt-in (iPhone) or download the app (Android), the system will assign you a random identification number. The numbers change every 10-20 minutes and cannot be used to identify you or your location. MD COVID Alert uses Bluetooth Low Energy technology—not Location settings—to determine when any two or more random identification numbers (i.e., phones) have been in contact for 15 minutes or more at a distance of 6 feet or less.
MD COVID Alert does not need to be open to work; it will run in the background, without draining your battery or data, to exchange these privacy-preserving random identification numbers via Bluetooth. Users do have to enable Bluetooth in order to detect how close you are to the phones of other users.
Each day the system downloads the list of all random identification numbers associated with verified positive COVID-19 cases and checks them against all numbers encountered in the two days prior to the positive test or symptom onset date.
If there’s a match, the user will be notified of the possible exposure to COVID-19 and instructed about what to do next.
How Your Privacy is Protected
- You have full control to opt in to receive Exposure Notifications and can turn it off at any time.
- The service will never track your location — it uses Bluetooth rather than GPS.
- Your identity will never be revealed to anyone.
- The service will never collect, transmit or store any of your personal information.