Linux Foundation Launches COVID-19 Project to Help Health Authorities Make Apps With Apple's API

The Linux Foundation today announced the launch of a new Linux Foundation Public Health Initiative (LFPH) (via TechRepublic) that uses open source technologies including Apple and Google's Exposure Notification API to help public health authorities combat COVID-19.

linuxfoundationcovid
The LFPH includes Cisco, doc.ai, Geometer, IBM, NearForm, Tencent, and VMWare, and is launching with two exposure notification projects: COVID Shield and COVID Green.

COVID Shield and COVID Green are apps that use the Apple and Google-designed privacy-focused exposure notification API, with the apps rolling out in Canada, Ireland, and some U.S. states.

"To catalyze this open source development, Linux Foundation Public Health is building a global community of leading technology and consulting companies, public health authorities, epidemiologists and other public health specialists, privacy and security experts, and individual developers," said Dan Kohn, LFPH general manager. "While we're excited to launch with two very important open source projects, we think our convening function to enable collaboration to battle this pandemic may be our biggest impact."

COVID Shield, developed by a volunteer team at Shopify, is in the process of being deployed in Canada, while COVID Green was developed by a team at NearForm as part of the Irish Government's response to the pandemic. Both of the apps are being made available to public health authorities around the world to use and customize to create their own contact tracing apps.

Apple released its ‌Exposure Notification‌ API in May 2020 with the launch of iOS 13.5, but the API, designed in partnership with Google, has not yet seen wide adoption. Switzerland, Latvia, Italy, Germany, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Ireland, and Denmark have launched contact tracing apps that use the API so far.

Some states like Alabama, North Dakota, and South Carolina are working on a contact tracing app, but no apps using the Apple and Google API have been released in the U.S. so far. Contact tracing is believed to be of value as it is designed to let people know when they've been exposed to COVID-19 so they can quarantine themselves and cut down on the spread of the virus.

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Top Rated Comments

AngerDanger Avatar
50 months ago

Reminds me of the Terminator series.
Fun fact: Industrial Light and Magic did the VFX for both The Abyss and Terminator 2. Despite the CGI face getting (I think) 10 seconds of screen time, it was considered a dry run for the effects they'd use in T2. :)
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
CarlJ Avatar
50 months ago

When this was announced I remember some sentiment about would these APIs be needed in a few months. Who knew?
I hear it’ll all be over by April. And there’s only like 15 cases in the US and it’ll only go down from there.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
CarlJ Avatar
50 months ago

When I asked the representative of California governor Gavin Newsom whether contact tracing app is in the works, I was told that they are using several thousand people to do the work instead, using voice calls to notify people.
Unfortunately, that’s a bit like saying, “I don’t need seat belts, I’ve got ABS brakes in my car”. They’re both safety equipment, but they aren’t competing - they should both be used.

We need manual contact tracing and exposure notification apps (and masks, and social distancing, and strict limits on large gatherings). They have different strengths - e.g. manual contract tracers can be very thorough, but they can get backlogged, while this lightweight exposure notification system can scale to millions of notifications quite easily, while responding extremely quickly. Manual contract tracers can follow up and provide guidance and ask probing questions, but they can’t find out about places where a person went that they’ve forgotten or are unwilling to admit, while exposure notification apps can notify people who were at those forgotten locations (all without knowing what that place was - merely that people were nearby - and without letting anyone know who those people are). Exposure notification is not a replacement for contact tracing, but it can fill in a lot of holes that contact tracing would miss.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mnsportsgeek Avatar
50 months ago

Contact tracing with mobile devices has been pretty widely panned by health experts, saying imprecision, false positives, and false negatives make it nearly useless.
How would those things be mitigated using people?
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
I7guy Avatar
50 months ago
When this was announced I remember some sentiment about would these APIs be needed in a few months. Who knew?
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
nutmac Avatar
50 months ago
Let's hope that US states take up on LFPH's offer. When I asked the representative of California governor Gavin Newsom whether contact tracing app is in the works, I was told that they are using several thousand people to do the work instead, using voice calls to notify people.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)