The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has launched a new app for Apple and Android devices called SlowCOVIDNC. The app went live today, and we’ve downloaded it so we can tell you how it works.
The app can be found by searching for “SlowCOVIDNC” in the app store on your mobile device.
Once it’s been downloaded, you will need to open the app and enable notifications and Bluetooth on your phone. You will need to ensure that Bluetooth is available for the app whenever you leave your home.
The reason for this is that the app uses Bluetooth signal strength to determine how far you are from another person using SlowCOVIDNC. If that person later logs a positive COVID-19 test in the app (more on that later), the app will reference the Bluetooth strength to determine if you are at risk of having been exposed. If the app determines that there was an exposure risk, you will be notified on your phone.
The app does not log or store identity information. It uses anonymous tokens which change every 15-20 minutes to swap information between app users via Bluetooth. No user will ever be given personal information about another user, and the system is maintained and secured by public health officials in North Carolina.
If a user receives a positive COVID-19 test results, they will be given a secure PIN by their local health department, and that PIN will be required to log the test result in the SlowCOVIDNC app. This will prevent false positives from being reported.
As the image to the right states, although the date of exposure might be shared with other users, the name of the person with a positive result will never be shared with anyone.
Also noted is that anyone with a positive result will be expected to adhere to NCDHHS guidelines, and thus anyone they encounter in the future will not be notified of possible exposure by the app. NCDHHS is attempting to promote community safety and wellbeing, but the emphasis is always on privacy.
Let’s all do our part to keep ourselves and our neighbors safe. Please consider downloading the SlowCOVIDNC app today.