Using technology in the fight against COVID-19

A new mobile app to help track the spread of COVID-19 is expected to launch in Ontario on July 2.

Ontario government officials say the app, named COVID Alert, will supplement the province's contact tracing strategy ahead of a potential second wave of the virus in the fall.

The province says it also plans to launch a new cloud-based case management system this summer and will bolster its contact tracing workforce, doubling its current capacity to more than 4,000 workers.

The government says the app works on an opt-in basis in order to protect the privacy of users, and the province has consulted with the Information and Privacy Commissioner on its development.

The app will notify people based on a number of criteria, including if they were within two metres of a person who tests positive for the virus and if that contact was over an extended period of time.

It uses Bluetooth to share anonymous, randomly generated codes with other app users nearby, and does not track or store personal information or location data.

If you're concerned about your privacy, you shouldn't be.

"It is totally privacy protected," says former Ontario Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian. "No personal information is collected or recorded, no geo-location data, nothing."

And she says it's completely voluntary, which keeps the user in control. Which means, you can cancel it at anytime if ever you no longer feel comfortable.