Dan Albas

Dan Albas

COLUMN: COVID-19 contact tracing app offers innovative approach

App designed to help monitor spread of pandemic in Canada

There are times, despite efforts to the contrary, that government at all levels end up running into situations where there is a “no-win” scenario.

Case in point, recently the Trudeau Liberal government announced a federal application (or app) for smart phones, designed to assist in COVID-19 contact tracing.

This app utilizes Bluetooth technology to exchange random phone codes whenever you are in close proximity to other users who are utilizing the same app on their cell phone.

In the event one of these users has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, all other app users who were in proximity to this individual can receive a confirmation alert.

READ ALSO: COLUMN: B.C. wine will cost more

READ ALSO: COLUMN: Fiscal sticker shock

In order to satisfy individual privacy concerns the app does not use GPS tracking, nor does it record your identity or any of your personal identification.

Currently this app is fully functional for the purposes of contract tracing in the province of Ontario however it is my understanding that it will be coming to more provinces in the future.

There have been some criticisms of the app, largely around the fact it is only compatible with smart phones that are not older than five years and also have the latest operating systems from Apple or Android installed.

This leaves those with older devices, as well as those who do not use smart phones at all, out in the cold.

It may turn out that some will be unaware that the app does not work with their existing phone, only to become surprised when it becomes clear that it will not operate on their device.

The bottom line here is the app is not perfect.

From my perspective, the government deserves credit for taking an innovative approach that has been successfully used in other jurisdictions.

As with most technological approaches to public policy issues, it is only over time where further refining and enhancements of the technology can lead to widespread adoption and better results.

I have written to the privacy commissioner in regard to this and his office has created a privacy framework for reviewing any Government of Canada contact tracing app.

Recently Daniel Therrien, Privacy Commissioner of Canada, said, “Canadians can opt to use this technology knowing it includes very significant privacy protections,” adding, “I will use it.”

After having done the research for this report and given my work involves a lot of travel and meeting various people at different kinds of Parliamentary meetings, I have chosen to install the app.

My question this week is: Have you or would you download the Canada COVID-19 alert app on your handheld device?

Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan Similkameen Nicola. This riding includes the communities of Kelowna, West Kelowna, Peachland, Summerland, Keremeos, Princeton, Merritt and Logan Lake.

To report a typo, email:
news@summerlandreview.com
.



news@summerlandreview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Columnistfederal government

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A map released by the BCCDC on Jan. 15 shows the number of new COVID-19 cases reported for each local health area between Jan. 3 and 9. (BCCDC Image)
Weekly COVID-19 case-counts continue to drop in the Central Okanagan

The Central Okanagan recorded 110 cases Jan. 3–9, a huge drop from the 349 noted between Dec. 6 and 12

(Vernon Search and Rescue/Facebook)
Vernon Search and Rescue responds after family gets UTV stuck on SilverStar trails

The family activated their SOS beacon around 3 p.m. once they realized they could be facing a night alone in the mountains

A rendering of BC Housing’s proposed 20-storey rental development at 1451 and 1469 Bertram Street in downtown Kelowna. (Contributed)
BC Housing hoping to build 20-storey rental housing tower in downtown Kelowna

The building would create ‘urgently needed’ new affordable rental housing units downtown

Abigail McCluskey is in the Netherlands training to compete in the World Cup next month. She joins 12 Canadian speedskaters for the international competition later this month. (Dave Holland CSI Calgary)
Penticton speed skater in Netherlands for World Cup

Abigail McCluskey will be skating the long track in the international competition

The organizer of a Kelowna protest against COVID-19 restrictions was fined by the RCMP for the third time Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021. (File photo)
COVID-19: Organizer of Kelowna anti-restriction protest ticketed for third time

The individual’s latest ticket for $2,300 was handed out by RCMP at an anti-lockdown rally Saturday

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage addresses the attendees while Tom Olsen, Managing Director of the Canadian Energy Centre, looks on at a press conference at SAIT in Calgary on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Greg Fulmes
‘Morally and ethically wrong:’ Court to hear challenge to Alberta coal policy removal

At least 9 interveners will seek to join a rancher’s request for a judicial review of Alberta’s decision

Dastkar, a new furniture store in Vernon, features handmade, unique furniture carved from wood and inlaid with brass in the Chiniot style. The business located on 43rd Avenue was started in December 2020 but is currently unstaffed due to COVID-19 staffing shortages. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
PHOTOS: Vernon’s hidden handmade furniture store

Owners of Shahi Pakwan Indian restaurant opened the South Asian furniture store in December 2020

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19: Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Anita Anand said she understands and shares Canadians’ concerns about the drug company’s decision

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will harm struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

B.C. government would have to show evidence a travel ban is necessary

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

Half of the most expensive homes are on 2080 Mackenzie Crt, which is across the street from Revelstoke Mountain Resort. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)
The 10 most valuable homes in Revelstoke for 2020

Combined, the properties are worth more than $35M

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)

Most Read