Canada taps BlackBerry, Shopify to help it develop COVID-19 contact tracing apps

The new app will use Bluetooth tech and will likely launch in July in Ottawa.
By Laura Lovett
01:16 pm
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Canada is the latest in a long line of countries looking toward contact tracing apps. Two of its tech giants, BlackBerry and Shopify, are joining forces to work with provincial and federal governments on the tools, according to a Reuters report

The new tech, which employs Bluetooth technology, is expected to launch in July in Ottawa. Dubbed COVID Alert, its users can tell the system if they have tested positive for the virus, and the tech, in turn, will be able to alert individuals who came into contact with them.

Canada already has a special app for individuals entering the country, called ArriveCAN. It lets people arriving in the country submit the coronavirus-related data and required questionnaire to before entering Canada. 

WHY IT MATTERS 

Canada has just reached 100,000 coronavirus cases, according to the World Health Organization. While this number is significantly lower than its southern neighbor, which reports well over two million cases, it is still a major focus for the country. 

However, tracing apps have been controversial in many countries. The Ada Lovelace Institute in the UK released a report that found major issues with tracing tools surrounding privacy agreements and technical limitations. 

THE LARGER TREND 

For the last few months country after country has been rolling out coronavirus tracing efforts. Some are doing what Canada is and teaming up with large tech giants. In April Apple and Google made headlines when the pair announced its plans to join forces to create a Bluetooth-enabled tracing app. 

The U.K. has announced its plans to adopt this Apple-Google model – a U-turn that came after it announced a month earlier that it would be ditching the tech giants’ model for a centralized system, instead of its decentralized system. The Indian government has created its own tracing app, dubbed Aarogya Setu, and is requiring that employers make staff download the app. 

In the Asia-Pacific region, Singapore launched one of the first Bluetooth-enabled apps, called TraceTogether, to help support and supplement current contact tracing efforts in the nation-state in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

 

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