State developing contact-tracer smartphone app, experts skeptical

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GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) — The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) is working alongside the state Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) to develop a smartphone app that uses Bluetooth Low Energy to track and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The app, which MUSC says is still under development, does not yet have a name. It is being built on a platform created in a joint effort by Google and Apple to combat coronavirus.

Skepticism over the technology is already growing before the app is even officially unveiled. Phil Yanov, the founder of Tech After Five, told 7News the tech could either open the door for the dissemination of malicious information or allow bad actors to intercept data.

He said he does not know if he will be willing to download it once it hits app stores.

“I want to be helpful. I want to find out who has diseases and how I can help and on the other hand, do I trust this data?” Yanov said. “No, I don’t know what to do about it yet.”

Oxford research suggests the success of such apps hinges on the percentage of the population willing to use them. The research says if 60% of the population used the apps, the spread of coronavirus could be stopped. Lower numbers could also slow the spread, research says.

MUSC declined to provide 7News with a timeline for when the app will be available for download.

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