CA Notify: the Technology to Prevent the Spread

As+COVID-19+cases+continue+to+increase%2C+California+has+introduced+CA+Notify%2C+it%27s+technological+approach+to+slow+the+spread.+

Photo by: Julie Chavez

As COVID-19 cases continue to increase, California has introduced CA Notify, it’s technological approach to slow the spread.

Story By: Krystle Nozartash, Reporter

CA Notify, the new system designed to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in California, officially launched on December 10, 2020.

California residents should consider activating the CA Notify app to receive exposure notifications. 

This can potentially reduce the spread of COVID-19 by alerting people in the surrounding area, while leaving personal information private. 

CA Notify, is operated by the California’s Department of Public Health (CDPH). The system can anonymously alert users that they may have been exposed to COVID-19, so they can get tested or begin to quarantine as soon as possible to prevent the spread.

Let’s say you contract the coronavirus; you have the choice report to CA-Notify. Bluetooth must be kept on in order to notify and be notified of exposure. 

A user who tests positive for the virus can notify other CA Notify users in close range. To activate such notification, the COVID-19 positive user must enter a valid verification code supplied by an authorized provider of the CDPH.

Jose Garcia, a Fresno City College student majoring in computer science told The Rampage the app can be battery consuming but he still encourages everyone to use it. 

“The developers and creators put some real thought into the CA Notify app. I was concerned about my personal information being put out there for everyone to see,” he said. “It seems secure and no personal information is shared.” 

CA Notify does not store or trade any personal information of a user, according to the California Information Practices Act.

The mobile devices of users share randomly generated codes of numbers through Bluetooth.

 The only information used are anonymous codes, Bluetooth strength, date and duration of exposure which is not connected to a user’s identity or location and user’s keys change frequently to protect their identity.

This data is stored only on the user’s own device and is never shared unless the user has a positive COVID-19 diagnosis and elects to share this information within the system. 

Data is kept for a period of 14 days and then is automatically deleted and cannot be restored.

According to CNBC, California has just under 40 million residents and about 10% of the state’s population has installed the CA Notify app.

CDPH says it does not have exact statistics of people who use CA Notify because of the way the system was created. 

However it is estimated that around 4 million Californians may have activated the system on their phone, based on the number of times a specific URL on its server.

“I think the development of the CA Notify app was brilliant. It does require my Bluetooth setting to stay on all the time. That sucks because it is really draining my phone’s battery,” said Samantha Lucero, a student majoring in physics at FCC.

To sign up and receive notifications is simple. 

CA Notify can be activated on Apple iPhones and is available for download on the Google Store. For more information go to https://canotify.ca.gov/.