UCLA is joining a pilot program that uses smartphone technology to help identify cases of coronavirus and alert people who may have been exposed to COVID-19.
The pilot program — which was launched in mid-September at UC San Diego and UC San Francisco — will be expanded to add UCLA, UC Riverside, UC Santa Barbara and UC Berkeley with the release of the Apple iOS 14.2 update scheduled for Nov. 16, university officials said.
CA COVID Notify is managed by the state, uses the Exposure Notifications System jointly created by Google and Apple, and allows a user who tests positive for COVID-19 to quickly and anonymously notify close contacts that they have been exposed to the virus.
“This is an exciting opportunity for the UCLA community to help protect others by reducing COVID-19 transmission, and we highly encourage all students, staff and faculty members to activate it once the pilot begins,” said Michael Beck, administrative vice chancellor and co-chair of UCLA’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Task Force. “The more users we have, the more effective this will be.”
When two telephones participating in the pilot program come within six feet of each other, they exchange IDs without names or locations attached, and Bluetooth technology must be turned on to exchange IDs between phones, officials said.
Anyone with a positive COVID-19 test must have had their tests conducted at a UCLA-connected test site in order to share the positive test results, and will be called by the UCLA Exposure Management Team and be given a code that will be distributed via smartphone. Once the keycode has been entered into the system by the user, the program will alert other users who were in close contact — within six feet of an infected person for a cumulative 15 minutes or more within a 24-hour period, according to the university.
“By voluntarily sharing a positive test result, the user allows the system to notify other users who were in close contact with them and who may have been exposed to the virus,” said John Bollard of UCLA’s Ashe Center, which has begun conducting about 10,000 COVID-19 surveillance tests each week as part of ongoing efforts to reduce the impacts of the virus.
UCLA noted that the program is voluntary, that the system does not collect, track or store users’ locations, GPS or personal information and that an individual can choose to turn the setting on or off at any time on their iPhone or uninstall the app on their Android device.