The COVID Alert app has reached 1.9 million downloads since launching in Ontario on July 31st, a government spokesperson confirmed to CBC.
It’s expected that “the overwhelming majority of these downloads have come from Ontario,” added the spokesperson.
For context, the app hit 1.1 million downloads on August 3rd. As the CBC notes, 1.9 million downloads works out to about five percent of Canada’s overall population, although it’s unclear how many have come from provinces in which the app has not yet officially launched.
Available for free on later-model Android and iOS phones, the COVID Alert app uses Bluetooth to exchange random codes with people to see if a code you’ve received matches one from someone who tested positive for COVID-19. The app will ask for permission to share your random codes from the last 14 days with a central server.
It’s worth noting that the CBC story also addresses consumer concerns that the COVID Alert app collects location data, despite Health Canada assuring that it does not. Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien has also said even he will use the app, noting that it has “very significant privacy protections.”
Nonetheless, 52 percent of Canadians say they don’t believe the app doesn’t geolocate users, according to a recent survey. Further, 39 percent of respondents said they don’t think the app will work in regards to curbing the spread of the virus.
Given all of that, experts told CBC that the government could build trust among people that the app is working by publishing some of the data that comes out of its everyday usage. For example, these experts pointed to how officials in Switzerland regularly publish active user and download counts related to that country’s COVID app. Meanwhile, the German government has revealed how many people who have tested positive have shared codes in their respective app.
For now, the Canadian government is “considering how to track — and potentially make available — data related to the app once other provinces and territories adopt it,” reports the CBC.
To learn more about the COVID Alert app, click here.