Online Originals: SlowCovidNC app keeps personal information confidential

Online Originals

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services created an app-specific for North Carolinians.

It’s called SlowCovidNC.

The app allows users to download onto their phones, and input information about their exposure to COVID-19.

The app is then designed to send alerts to users when they have come in contact with someone who has tested positive or been exposed to the virus.

Such a simple idea, and so easy to use, why aren’t more people using it?

Well, 9OYS reached out to the community, and the response was overwhelming.

People are concerned about the privacy of the app.

They don’t want other users or the government to have access to their personal information, like their location.

One of the experts who helped create the app says he completely understands the concern.

But, he tells us not to worry, because the app was specifically designed to keep identity and information extremely confidential.

Sam Gibbs, Deputy Secretary of Technology and Operations at the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services says people are justified in their concerns, but his team, along with Google and Apple, created the app around anonymity.

Gibbs says users are assigned “codes” consisting of random numbers and letters.

This code changes every 15 minutes so that nobody can trace your device or hack into any personal information since the codes are randomly generated.

Every 14 days, all previous codes and data are completely deleted, so privacy is absolutely not an issue.

Deputy Secretary Gibbs also says, a unique part of the app that was vital to the privacy they wanted to create, is the use of Bluetooth.

By using Bluetooth, as opposed to GPS tracking, phones are anonymous as well as locations.

“If you think of Bluetooth…it’s like a broadcast, you’ve got a station that broadcasts out, but it doesn’t know where the receivers are, it’s doesn’t know who they are” – Sam Gibbs NCDHHS

Gibbs goes on to say he’s veery confident in the abilities of the app and its confidentiality. Gibbs along with his children use the app and he says he is very comfortable with them doing so because he knows how the app works.

The other aspect of the app that Gibbs wants to highlight is the ability to contract trace at a much faster speed than before.

Before, contact tracing through a facility could take weeks to track, contact, and notify people of exposure.

Now, the process can happen in just a few days.

For more information about how this app works, and how it works for people across the state you can check out the NCDHHS website: https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/slowcovidnc

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