A smartphone system informing Coloradans when they have been exposed to someone infected with the coronavirus will not be available in September as state officials initially said.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and Gov. Jared Polis’ office now say the “Exposure Notifications Express” system being created in partnership with tech giants Apple and Google will be rolled out sometime in October.
They declined to provide an exact date.
“The important thing when it comes to releasing is right, not fast,” Sarah Tuneberg, Polis’ coronavirus innovation response team lead, said in a written statement. “We want to make sure that everything is in place to make the launch as smooth and as seamless as possible.”
The Polis administration did not provide more information about the delay.
Tuneberg said at a Sept. 8 news conference that people would be able to voluntarily activate the service “by the end of September” by updating their iPhones or downloading an application if they use Android devices.
Polis said at the time that he was hopeful the tool will help health officials more efficiently track the virus’ spread.
The service, once it is live, will work in the background of people’s everyday lives by trading “tokens” with the smartphones of those they interact with or pass by. If someone you’ve been near in the past 14 days tests positive for COVID-19, a push alert will be sent to your phone urging you to get tested.
The idea is to expand contact tracing to anonymous interactions people have when they’re at the grocery store, shopping at a retail store or walking down the street.
Tuneberg said the tokens are completely randomized and that people’s personal information will never be shared. Users won’t be given information on where and when they were potentially exposed to coronavirus
Tuneberg added that Colorado decided to sign onto the project only after determining it was secure.
Colorado officials plan to release more information about the service — also known as EN Express — whenever it’s rolled out. Other countries and states already use variations of the free system.