Alberta switches to federal COVID-19 app


Alberta to switch over to federal app after relinquishing its provincial notification app

Alberta will son switch from its provincial COVID-19 notification app to the national app. Moreover, this comes just over three months after Alberta launched its provincial contact tracing app, ABTraceTogether. The Globe and Mail reported the news, then CBC News confirmed it. After Alberta unveiled ABTraceTogether on May 1, many tried to emulate it, as the app was the first of its kind in Canada.

This app uses Bluetooth technology to determine if a user has come into contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19. Subsequently, the app will notify the user so they can self-isolate and prevent further spread of the virus. There was almost an open trace of accusations between the province of Alberta and the federal government. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney had previously pointed the finger at Ottawa, stating that the government was preventing Alberta from working on fixes for its provincial app. But Ottawa’s response was fast, as they said a national app was in development.

How is the national app different from ABTraceTogether?

The national app, COVID Alert, hit mobile platforms on July 31 in Ontario. Meanwhile, Apple and Google are committing to restricting their technology to one app per country in order to avoid a patchwork situation. Nonetheless, it’s still unclear how Alberta plans to implement COVID Alert in its territory. The national app has been praised for its focus on privacy. Because of its voluntary nature, COVID Alert won’t track user’s location nor collect personal information. Like ABTraceTogether, it uses Bluetooth technology and runs on the background of your smartphone. If two please are within two metres of each other for more than 15 minutes, it will record a potential exposure.

Once someone is diagnosed with COVID-19, they can record that in the app. The app will then notify people that came into contact with that person. However, this without telling users who was the person which tested positive in the first place. This will ensure privacy but also prevent victim blaming, as studies have shown contagion can be a tricky thing to contain or ascertain.