Virginia: Rapidly launching a COVID-19 exposure notification app

Within the first week, the app had more than 300,000 downloads.

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The COVIDWISE exposure notification app gives you an additional tool to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your community, while maintaining your personal privacy. I encourage all Virginians to download and use this app, so we can work together to contain this virus.
–Virginia Governor Ralph Northam

COVIDWISE is the official COVID-19 exposure notification app for the Virginia Department of Health. Egen worked with Google Cloud and the Virginia Department of Health to build this app in just six weeks. Within the first week, the app had more than 300,000 downloads.

This app was developed using a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) API framework created through a collaboration with the Apple and Google Exposure Notification API.

If someone reports to the app that they tested positive for COVID-19, the signals from their app will search for other app users who shared that signal. The BLE signals are date-stamped, and the app estimates how close the two devices were based on signal strength. If the timeframe was at least 15 minutes and the estimated distance was within six feet, then the other user receives a notification of a possible exposure. To maintain privacy, no names or locations are shared between users.

The BLE framework within COVIDWISE runs in the background, even if the exposure notification app is closed. It will not drain the device battery at a rate that would occur with other apps that use normal Bluetooth or are open and running constantly.