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Apple-Google contact tracing solution first look; no GPS data collection

Last month, Apple and Google announced their plans to create a COVID-19 contact tracing solution through an unprecedented partnership. The solution, the companies said, would help governments and health agencies to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Read in detail: What is contact tracing and why do Apple and Google want to do it?

In the context of the coronavirus pandemic, contact tracing refers to the process of searching for and reaching out to the contacts of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Apple and Google said their solution would serve as an alternative to the conventionally slow and labor-intensive process, accessible only to official public health authorities.

As the companies outlined their plans to leverage the Bluetooth sensors embedded in 2.5 billion active Android devices and 1.5 billion active iOS devices for contact tracing, privacy experts expressed concerns about the implications of personal data collection.

Also see: People are using this free Google tool to make custom COVID-19 maps

apple google contact tracing

Now, the tech giants have revealed the first version of their ‘Exposure Notification API’ to developers, clarifying that the solution would neither use nor allow the collection of GPS location data from any user. “Google and Apple put user privacy at the forefront of this exposure notification technology’s design and have established strict guidelines to ensure that privacy is safeguarded,” the companies said.

Key features of Apple and Google’s contact tracing solution

  • Explicit user consent required
  • Doesn’t collect or use location data from a user’s phone
  • Bluetooth beacons and keys don’t reveal user identity or location
  • User controls all data they want to share, and the decision to share it
  • People who test positive are not identified to other users, Google, or Apple
  • Will only be used for exposure notification by public health authorities for COVID-19 pandemic management

apple google contact tracing

The companies also said they would disable the exposure notification system on a regional basis when it is no longer needed. Users will also be able to turn it off at any time by uninstalling the contact tracing application or turning off exposure notification in device Settings.

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Urban mobility app Moovit is going to Intel’s Mobileye for $900 million

Intel moovit acquisition

The COVID-19 pandemic may be putting businesses through a great deal of uncertainty, but it is not stopping Intel from pursuing its dreams of global adoption of autonomous transportation. The technology giant is scooping up transit data powerhouse Moovit for approximately $900 million. The mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) solutions company will join Intel’s driverless automotive division Mobileye. Intel had acquired Mobileye for $15.3 billion in 2017.

Moovit, an Israeli startup, is known for its urban mobility application that offers travelers around the world multimodal trip planning by combining public transportation, bicycle and scooter services, ride-hailing, and car-sharing.

Also see: After Google Maps, now Moovit is offering AR-based navigation

Intel sees mobility services, including robotaxi services, as a $160 billion opportunity by 2030, and believes that Moovit’s tech stack will help to bring the company closer to its goal of becoming a complete mobility provider.

According to Intel CEO Bob Swan, “Intel’s purpose is to create world-changing technology that enriches the lives of every person on Earth, and our Mobileye team delivers on that purpose every day. Mobileye’s ADAS technology is already improving the safety of millions of cars on the road, and Moovit accelerates their ability to truly revolutionize transportation – reducing congestion and saving lives – as a full-stack mobility provider.”

Insisting that mobility is a basic human right, Nir Erez, Co-founder and CEO of Moovit, says, “The combination of Moovit’s leading urban mobility app used by millions, our deep understanding of people’s mobility usage patterns and needs, together with Mobileye’s world-leading self-driving vehicle technology, will create revolutionary transportation alternatives.”

In addition to his role as Moovit CEO, Erez will also serve as an Executive Vice President at Mobileye and a VP at Intel Corp.

What’s in it for Moovit users?

Moovit users are expected to have access to a wider range of mobility alternatives, including multi-modal routes that combine public transit, bikes, scooters, shared-cars, rider-hailing, and (ultimately) Mobileye’s fleets of self-driving vehicles.

Erez adds that Moovit will also offer cities better urban mobility insights, powered by Big Data and artificial intelligence, to help them better understand their citizens’ mobility needs, and match them, in real-time, with the best mobility options.

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