Last updateFri, 15 Jan 2021 2pm

Pandemic tracking apps pros & cons

There is good news and there is bad news, and this is not a joke.

The good news is that Apple and Google are partnering to build a Bluetooth-enabled technology that could allow everyone who carries a smart phone to have an app to warn them when they have been in close proximity to someone else identified as infected with a contagious disease.  The bad news is that it takes time to develop and deploy new software systems so the proposed tracking system is unlikely to be ready for the current flu season.  More bad new is that there are so many technical obstacles to overcome that it is extremely unlikely any smart phone app using existing technology will ever be reliable.

Bruce Schneier is a respected Information Technology expert and fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.  He was quoted in BuzzFeed News saying “My problem with contact tracing apps is that they have absolutely no value, I’m not even talking about the privacy concerns, I mean the efficacy. Does anybody think this will do something useful?”  He goes on to opine that the very concept of a smart phone app to track pandemics is just “something governments want to do for the hell of it,” or it is “techies doing techie things because they don’t know what else to do.”

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