The federal government’s COVID Alert exposure notification app has been updated to evaluate its effectiveness in reducing the spread of COVID-19.
In a news release, Health Canada outlined that this will be done through the collection of certain metrics. It’s important to note that the app has measures in place to maintain privacy and confidentiality.
With the latest update, COVID Alert will collect metrics on:
- The number of active users and downloads per province or territory;
- The number of exposure notifications sent;
- The number of users who enter a one-time key after receiving a notification
- Technical performance to help ensure the app is working correctly.
“With these new performance metrics, we are still prioritizing privacy while increasing our understanding of the apps’ effectiveness on reducing the spread of COVID-19,” said Health Minister Patty Hajdu in the news release.
Health Canada notes that the Privacy Commissioner’s office was consulted about the new metric collection and was satisfied with the privacy safeguards.
These new metrics will start to be collected as of February 9th on a go-forward basis. Health Canada states that user statistics will be released in the spring.
It’s worth noting that the app has been plagued with questions about whether the app is actually effective in curbing the spread of COVID-19. This new update should help to answer this question in the coming months.
COVID Alert first launched in Ontario in July 2020. Since then, the app has been downloaded more than 6.1 million times and over 18,500 users have input their one-time key after testing positive for the virus to alert others.
The app was recently updated to work on the iPhone 5s, 6 and 6 Plus. It’s now available 97.5 percent of all Canadian smartphones.