Users do not have to enter any information to use the app, but Bluetooth must be enabled to properly track exposures. NCDHHS assures user privacy and that no personal data will be collected.
“Even if somebody broke into this and was going to look at the information, it's just a bunch of random code numbers that are not personal or identifiable to location information," Gibbs said. "So that's why we chose this, because it is super secure.”
The program was designed jointly by Apple and Google.
“Apple and Google's approach was that they wanted to make sure that it was totally anonymous,” Gibbs said. “The state, we really care a lot about privacy and security for our residents here, and as we had our private security folks look at the apps, we just thought that this was a better approach for our citizens.”
Faculty, staff and students in the UNC System are encouraged to use the app.
“The SlowCOVIDNC app is a great resource provided by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services,” UNC Media Relations said in an email. “The University was not involved in developing the app but we do encourage students to download it to help slow the spread of COVID-19 through the Apple App Store and Google Play.”
The University shared the news about the app to students on numerous social media platforms.
Delaney Phelps, a first-year history major, said she sees the various benefits of the app.
“I plan on downloading the app,” Phelps said. “I'm definitely very careful about COVID-19 and possible exposure, so any help I can get is something I'm interested in."
NCDHHS has been working alongside higher education systems in North Carolina to implement the new app on campuses, Gibbs said.
Students reporting positive test results will receive further information about next steps for their specific university on the app.
“When you get a positive test, you're going to go to a website, and it's going to give you a unique code to key in,” Gibbs said. “When you key in that code, there's another menu there that will be your identifier. At that point, you'll identify yourself as a UNC student. There are some web pages that the application will send you to the specific information for each individual college and university.”
While test reporting is voluntary, it is highly encouraged. Those who are exposed are strongly recommended by the NCDHHS to quarantine after receiving information from the app.
Phelps said she hopes the app will help with the state's response to COVID-19.
“Overall, I think the app looks really good,” Phelps said. “I'm just glad that our state is making an effort to help citizens. It makes me proud of North Carolina.”