Gov. Jay Inslee and the Washington State Department of Health hosted a press conference Monday, Nov. 30 regarding a new statewide COVID-19 exposure notification tool called WA Notify.
WA Notify is a collaboration between the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) and the University of Washington’s (UW) schools of computer science, medicine, public health, and nursing, as well as support from the Brotman Baty Institute.
The exposure notification tool uses privacy-preserving technology from Google and Apple that does not collect or reveal any location or personal data. When voluntarily activated, Bluetooth technology can anonymously alert users who have been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
“People are understandably concerned these days about being tracked and having their personal information compromised,” said Associate Professor Stefano Tessaro with the UW Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering in a press release. “However, the technology behind WA Notify has been vetted by security and privacy experts across the world, and it does not collect or store any information that personally identifies its users. I plan to add WA Notify to my phone and I will encourage my friends and family to use it as well.”
WA Notify is free and can be enabled in iPhone settings or downloaded as an app for Android phones. Participation is voluntary, and users can opt out at any time.
Virginia, New York, and Colorado are among several states already using this technology. Countries including Ireland, Canada, and Germany have already successfully implemented it.
“WA Notify complements the actions Washington residents are already taking, like wearing masks, physical distancing, and keeping gatherings small,” said Secretary of Health John Wiesman in the release. “We’re excited to be joining the states already using this safe and secure technology and encourage all Washingtonians to join the effort.”