GuideSafe™ – a multitool platform developed by a team of experts at The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), part of The University of Alabama System, to combat COVID-19 – today announced the first update to its anonymous Exposure Notification App which was originally launched statewide on Aug. 17. Available today, the update provides users with clarity around exposure specifics, as well as more defined, actionable next steps should a threshold-of-action positive COVID-19 exposure occur.
“We are seeing the GuideSafe Exposure Notification App function effectively and as designed, but this update will provide a more efficient user experience and will work to mitigate any confusion as to how an exposed user should move forward,” said Sue Feldman, R.N., MEd, Ph.D., professor and director of graduate programs in health informatics at UAB. “We anticipate that this update will provide the necessary clarity to better equip users with a distinct course of action.”
Prior to the update, users would receive popup notifications for exposures – or matched, private Bluetooth codes – if those codes came into contact for short time allotments, no matter how brief. However, once those notifications were received, users who logged onto the app for additional information would see zero exposures listed, as the notifications did not meet the allotted threshold for action (within 6 feet for 15 minutes or longer). Ultimately, this update will ensure users are only notified if the space and time of exposure are considered actionable.
While the update is available for both Android and Apple devices, it is recommended that iOS users upgrade to the latest operating system – iOS (14).
“On Apple’s older operating system [pre-iOS 13.7], a similar issue was seen that users were receiving a weekly list of possibly matched Bluetooth codes. Apple is switching to a monthly popup to make sure users are aware that the operating system is still working as intended to detect exposures,” added Dr. Feldman.
In addition to the app’s first technical update, GuideSafe also announced current app downloads statewide and Alabama Department of Health (ADPH)-verified positive exposures. To date, 61,935 Alabamians have adopted the app with a total of 133 positive COVID-19 notifications generated statewide.
Supported by CARES Act funding, the GuideSafeTM Exposure Notification App was built by UAB and Birmingham-based MotionMobs in active collaboration with ADPH and integrating Google and Apple's Exposure Notification System (ENS).
It protects personal privacy and data while anonymously alerting a user of possible exposure to someone who later tests positive to COVID-19. GuideSafeTM app notifications can arm users with information needed to quarantine or seek testing and treatment, all while guarding user privacy.
For more information and a list of GuideSafeTM Exposure Notification App-specific FAQ’s, please visit guidesafe.org.