COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Colorado will be the first state in the country to deploy a phone app to help track COVID-19 cases.
The State of Colorado partnered with Google and Apple to develop "Exposure Notification Express," which will go live on Sunday.
Starting Sunday morning at 9, Coloradans will receive a notification on their phones allowing them to choose if they want to use the app or not. The app is available for both iPhones and Androids. Users can opt-out of the system at any time.
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment believes the new exposure notification app will speed up contact tracing efforts.
If you and someone you come in close proximity with both have the app on your phone, your phones will exchange what are called "tokens" via Bluetooth. Those "tokens" log close interactions for 14 days. If someone who has the app tests positive for COVID-19, those who have those close contact "tokens" with that person will be alerted if the COVID-19 patient gives permission.
"You would get an alert on your phone that would say on X-date, you might have been exposed to COVID," CDPHE's Sarah Tuneberg said.
KRDO asked state health officials how Coloradans' personal information will be protected if they use the app. State officials claim that even if the system is hacked, there would be no relevant or personal information compromised.
"The technology couldn't be more safe. There is no personally identifiable data that is collected. It uses Bluetooth and not GPS. So there's no location information. There are no names. There's not test data. There's not health information," Tuneberg said.
So what information is processed to know who will be notified? Officials say it's all about those "tokens", which are apparently are comprised of random numbers and letters.
"The only information that is associated with it is a random string of letters and numbers that's generated on the phone itself and is traded back and forth with other phones, and that's it. So if you could hack into a phone or a database of this, all you would end up with is a series of letters and numbers," Tuneberg explained.
Public health leaders told KRDO that studies show that if 15% of the community uses the app, it could decrease COVID-19 transmission by 8% and coronavirus deaths by 6%.
For iPhone users, the exposure notification system will be a setting option. Android users will be required to download an app in the Google Play store.