By Jared Gomes
In order to combat COVID many tracing apps have been released to track the spread, including Canada’s federal app Covid Alert.
Alberta has opted out of using that application and instead chooses to use ABTraceTogether. The Alberta-focused app has information and data tailored to Alberta and its health services.
Anyone can download the ABTraceTogether App to their smartphone, and as long as the app is running in the background, it will monitor the users location.
If the user comes into contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID, they will be notified. The more people using the app the more effective it is in tracing who has been in contact with each other.
The app is not without its downfalls. Sometimes it does not function as it is supposed to. Also, the time it takes to be notified that a user requires a COVID test is not as immediate as it should be.
“If the tracing app works and if it gave you the time and date that you were in proximity then you would be able to figure out where you were and then you can call AHS and say ‘I have been in contact and do I need to isolate’,” said Christine Bannerman, the supervisor of NAIT’s Health Services.
The Alberta Government’s website features a FAQ page describing how the app works and how it is safe to use.
Bannerman said that in spite of this, one large concern looming in the minds of many Albertans is their personal privacy.
“A lot of people are nervous that the app will trace them if they’re going to the coffee shop, bar or grocery store. They are nervous about being traced. The app doesn’t do that. The app is just an awareness tool so that if you do come across someone who also runs the app that is COVID positive you can know,” said Bannerman.
Bannerman said a solution to these issues, whether it is Albertans being cautious about the app or not knowing about it at all, is simply more education on it.
“Have someone from the healthcare world, but also the IT world explain more about how it works,” said Bannerman.
This way Albertans would not only know how the app interacts and notifies them about the virus but alleviates unnecessary paranoia and mystery surrounding it.
According to AHS, ABTraceTogether is a necessary tool to notify users if they have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. It also assists AHS investigators with their tracing.
Although the app may have glitches, AHS encourages more Albertans to download it to help Health Services contact tracers during an overwhelming period.