October 07, 2020
New Jersey has launched a mobile app that notifies users when they have been exposed another user who has tested positive for COVID-19.
The app, COVID Alert NJ, is free to download via the App Store and Google Play. It is available to any adult who lives, works or attends college in New Jersey.
The app uses Bluetooth technology to sense close contacts – other app users who are within six feet for more than 10 minutes. The app will alert the close contacts of users who test positive for the coronavirus, but it will not reveal the identity of the person who tested positive.
COVID Alert NJ works in conjunction with similar apps in neighboring states, including Pennsylvania. Any New Jersey user who is exposed to an infected person with a compatible app will receive a notification. The notifications include an exposure alert and instructions detailing the appropriate next steps.
The app also provides users with up-to-date information on New Jersey's reopening news, a daily symptom tracking tool and key COVID-19 metrics, including publicly-reported testing data.
The app was developed by the Irish software company Nearform Ltd., which launched a similar app, dubbed COVID Green, in Ireland in July.
To maintain user privacy and security, the app will not collect any personal data, including names and user location. All users, including those who test positive for the coronavirus, will remain anonymous.
The app exchanges a secure random code when it senses a close contact. If a user later tests positive, a public health official will ask the person to anonymously inform their close contacts by uploading their close contact codes into the app.
Each day, the app compares a user's close contact codes to a list of those associated with users who have tested positive for the virus. If there's a match, the user will receive a notification.
"Over the course of our public health emergency, we’ve called for a shared sense of personal responsibility to support our contact tracing efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19," Gov. Phil Murphy said. "The more phones that have the app, the better we can fight this pandemic."
Users who wish to receive alerts must turn on exposure notifications on their phones.