California Rolls Out Its Contact Tracing App Directly to Users' Phones

Francesca Billington

Francesca Billington is a freelance reporter. Prior to that, she was a general assignment reporter for dot.LA and has also reported for KCRW, the Santa Monica Daily Press and local publications in New Jersey. She graduated from Princeton in 2019 with a degree in anthropology.

California Rolls Out Its Contact Tracing App Directly to Users' Phones

Millions of California residents woke up Thursday morning with an invitation to join a new digital COVID-19 contact tracing app called CA Notify.

Smartphone users can now opt-in to the service designed by Apple and Google that uses Bluetooth to track when two devices have been near each other for at least 15 minutes.

If a CA Notify user tests positive, they'll be texted a code to plug into the app. Other users who have been within 6 feet of them will then receive a notification about potential exposure.


The platform is available on the iPhones Settings menu under "Exposure Notifications," but Android users will have to download the CA Notify app directly.

California COVID-19 Exposure NotificationsOn an iPhone, turning on California's COVID-19 exposure notifications is as easy as going to your settings.

The move to launch a statewide notification tool comes nine months into the pandemic and two days after California set single-day records for COVID-19 fatalities.

"When combined with other actions like wearing masks and physical distancing, CA Notify can help curb the transmission of COVID-19," CA Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Ghaly said in a statement. "This technology is another way for Californians to take proactive steps to keep themselves, their loved ones and their communities safe."

According to state officials, the tool does not track location or reveal your identity to other users. It is free and voluntary, raising potential questions about whether a substantial portion of Californians will opt-it.

In a press briefing Monday, Governor Gavin Newsom said the state held off on launching the platform over concerns about security privacy protection.

"That's why we've been frankly a little stubborn and kept our eyes wide open in terms of this technology," he said.

The platform was piloted in September at UC San Diego and UC San Francisco, and launched at five additional UC campuses in November. Officials said they do not know how many people enabled the program during that trial run, but campuses estimate around 250,000 users.

In September, L.A. County partnered with the crime-tracking app Citizen to promote SafePass, a contact tracing tool that uses both Bluetooth and GPS location-tracking. It was met with some concern from security experts over how the app was using and storing personal data. The Department of Public Health said the state is still partnering with the app.

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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

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Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

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Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is a reporter at dot.LA. Prior to that, she was an editorial fellow at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

LA Tech ‘Moves’: HyperDraft Taps LegalZoom Exec
Photo by James Opas | Modified by Joshua Letona

“Moves,” our roundup of job changes in L.A. tech, is presented by Interchange.LA, dot.LA's recruiting and career platform connecting Southern California's most exciting companies with top tech talent. Create a free Interchange.LA profile here—and if you're looking for ways to supercharge your recruiting efforts, find out more about Interchange.LA's white-glove recruiting service by emailing Sharmineh O’Farrill Lewis (sharmineh@dot.la). Please send job changes and personnel moves to moves@dot.la.

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