Tim Rosenberg Director at Lithios joined us to speak about a topic that has recently been on people’s minds for a variety of reasons. With most state governments beginning to open their states back up, the community at large looks for ways to keep themselves safe. We’ve all heard about Google and Apple collaboration on an Exposure API, but what does that actually mean and why is it important? Tim shared with us the basics. 

In the early spring of 1918 the Spanish Flu pandemic worked its way around the globe. The crisis lasted around fifteen months and had roughly a 3% mortality rate. What made the Spanish Flu especially horrific is exactly what we are trying to prevent today, a second wave. Tim explained that some of the reasons the second wave hit had a lot to do with lack of general medical knowledge, no social distancing, poor sanitation, and limited technology. While people back then struggled to understand what was going on in the world around them, today we are lucky enough to have a communication infrastructure that allows authorities to send warnings and information to help educate the population and allow them to prepare. Tim also noted that today, we have advanced medical knowledge that’s shared, technology that wasn’t even dreamed about back then, and of course IoT. 

What does that mean for us? It means that the technology we have is being used to create software and devices that will help us protect ourselves. For example Postman has created API that allows for contact tracing, Sensource is working on occupancy sensors to count people as the enter a building, companies like HP released open source blueprints to allow for printing of personal protective equipment, and finally things like Project N95 which is a marketplace for people to source, buy, and sell PPE. How does IoT fit into this list? According to Tim, we can look to the startling collaboration between Google and Apple. Through the use of our connected devices, specifically cellphones, the Exposure API will allow for app developers to track personal exposure by identifying other devices we come into contact with. To track a person’s exposure, devices will emit a signal via bluetooth that will record a log of other signals a person comes across. It will then create a completely anonymous log that will not be shared but stored locally on the device and only accessible by the user, Tim explained. That, along with having to opt in, take away a lot of the security and privacy concerns. He also noted that the tracking only occurs if you have downloaded an app provided by a public health authority. 

While some remain skeptical of their privacy being violated or the security of their information, Google and Apple are creating something that app developers like Lithios can use to help battle COVID-19 one device, one person at a time.