I can remember back in high school reading Orwells 1984 and thinking how he had one great imagination. That was in 1983, and now here we are in 2020, and art has imitated life—big brother IS watching after all.
Word out of New York state is that they have officially released an app for tracking the novel coronavirus COVID-19. The app, designed to offer alerts to both New York and New Jersey residents, for when they are coming in close contact with an individual reportedly infected with COVID-19.
The contact tracing app for the state of New York’s residents operates on smartphones and solely aimed a COVID-19. It offers those who work or attend school within the borders of New York or New Jersey to be alerted if they have come into close contact with any other individual or individuals that are known to be infected with COVID-19. The site that the state created for the app encourages all residents who have a smartphone to download the app and do their part to prevent the further spread of the virus.
As many may recall, COVID-19 established its grip on the nation in the early months of 2020 and has spread into a worldwide pandemic that does not appear to be going away any time soon. When in the early stages of the outbreak in March, the city of New York was one of the nation’s hotbeds for the virus. With infections averaging reports of 10,000 new cases each day, the numbers peaked in April at an estimated confirmed of over 11,500.
Since those days, the state’s numbers have significantly dropped. However, with the large population of the city, the tragic numbers still proved to be high. Statewide in New York, the infection count has been reported to be 465,000, with an estimated 33,000 residents passing from what had proved to be a deadly virus.
COVID Alert NY, as the app is called, is an anonymous, voluntary notification of exposure app, as stated by the state’s website for coronavirus information. The app will alert the phone owner if they have come in close contact with an individual known to have tested positive with COVID-19.
With this knowledge of possibly being exposed to the virus, individuals will be afforded the ability to immediately self-quarantine, as well as get tested—reducing further exposure to others.
The working theory is that the more people in New York City and New Jersey who download the COVID Alert NY app, the more effective it will operate. However, there is still the worry that many will not want to freely share information with the state, including where they may be or other such information of a personal nature.
Although, at first glance, it would appear that the app would, in fact, track a person and monitor their location. However, on the state’s website, users are reassured multiple times that the app is completely anonymous, and the individual’s privacy is of utmost importance.