One of the essential elements of flattening the curve and minimizing exposure to COVID19 is by ensuring self-isolation of those that have been diagnosed and through stay-at-home directives. The Texas Guardians was designed specifically to accomplish this through cell phone technology. When a check-in is requested by the administrator, an individual’s phone snaps a photo and provides a current location to verify the individual is practicing self-isolation.
The app does this in an effective and non-invasive way. No other information is gathered or stored and the data isn’t sold or utilized for the financial gain of big business. The Texas Guardians app doesn’t maintain constant monitoring of users, nearby phones, or their owners. It’s only for use in the U.S. and participation is voluntary.
Following the release of The Texas Guardians app, Apple and Google officials announced their intention of teaming up and using Bluetooth technology to track individuals. The tech giants indicated that downloading the app would be voluntary. At the same time, the company officials have said that the software will be built directly into iPhone and Android phones and it will automatically track each individual’s phone, along with the phones of others that come within close proximity.
The tech companies are using the invasive method as contact tracing. The app will be released in multiple countries, but not in the U.S. Company officials have assured individuals that they will have complete control and protections. Multiple states have already contacted Apple and Google about the technology as a way to enforce stay-at-home orders and as a tool when reopening state economies.
The Texas Guardians is designed specifically for those in the U.S. The app doesn’t have the potential for mistaken alerts and doesn’t utilize personal identifiers. The app can easily be deleted when it’s no longer needed, unlike the Apple/Google collaboration that creators say will simply be turned off.
Tracing is an effective tool for minimizing exposure, ensuring infected individuals are self-isolating, and for following stay-at-home directives. The Apple/Google plan raises major questions about privacy and freedom concerns, what will actually be done with the information collected, and how it will be used in the future. The Texas Guardians app doesn’t have those issues and respects the autonomy of every individual.