Technology in Colorado: Our Next Steps in COVID-19 Innovation
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Technology in Colorado: Our Next Steps in COVID-19 Innovation

By Chynna Cowart, COVID Testing and Containment Communications Lead, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

Chynna Cowart, COVID Testing and Containment Communications Lead, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

With an emphasis on privacy, security, and safety, Colorado has embarked on a new chapter of COVID-19 technology innovation with a service designed to alert people when they have possibly been exposed to the virus. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), along with partners at the Governor's Office, the state Office of Information Technology, and local public health agencies, have worked tirelessly to find solutions for Colorado. This opt-in notification system is the latest step in the state’s ongoing actions to help keep Coloradans safe and healthy during the pandemic.

CO Exposure Notifications is a voluntary new service available on both iPhone and Android phones that can help slow the spread of COVID-19. If you have enabled Exposure Notifications on your phone, whenever you are within 6 feet of someone who has also enabled the service, for at least 10 minutes, your phones will exchange secure, anonymous tokens. If you test positive for COVID-19, you can choose to share these anonymous tokens. Doing so will send an alert to anyone with whom you have exchanged tokens in the past two weeks, notifying them of possible exposure. The tokens are not associated with a user’s name, phone number, location, or IP address.

"Awareness and identification is key to slowing the spread of COVID-19"

Developers helped customize this service specifically for Colorado to ensure privacy and ease of use. The app does not collect or share any personally identifying information with the state, public health agencies, Apple, or Google. Colorado sees this as a win because it lets us protect Coloradans’ privacy while doing our part to slow the spread of this devastating virus. 

Colorado iPhone users will receive a push notification saying that CO Exposure Notifications is available. They then will be able to turn on the service in their settings. Android phones will auto-generate an app named CO Exposure Notifications that users can download. Exposure Notifications relies on people opting in to the service. 

The exposure notifications service is not contact tracing in the traditional sense. But coupled with robust testing to identify cases, Exposure Notifications alert individuals who would otherwise be unaware they may have been exposed to the virus. This information allows individuals to take quick and appropriate measures to limit the spread like staying home and getting tested. In addition, they can monitor their symptoms and seek treatment if needed. When more people take these individual actions to limit the spread of COVID-19, it helps everyone stay healthy. CO Exposure Notifications complements Colorado’s testing and case investigation process by providing information people might not otherwise receive.

Awareness and identification is key to slowing the spread of COVID-19. When Coloradans opt in to this service, they'll be able to take quick and appropriate measures in case of exposure and help keep our communities healthy.

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