Exposure Notification App FAQs

Covid Watch Arizona

Have questions about Covid Watch Arizona, the University’s free COVID-19 exposure notification app? Here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions. Don’t see your question below? Contact us, and we’ll add it to the FAQ.

About the App

Covid Watch Arizona is a mobile application for iOS and Android devices that provides anonymous COVID-19 exposure notifications. When mobile devices that have the app installed are near each other, the app uses private, encoded Bluetooth signals to determine how long and how close the users were. The Bluetooth signal distance and duration is then used to determine an individual's potential exposure level to another app user who has tested positive for COVID-19.

First, download Covid Watch Arizona from Google Play or the App Store. Then, open the app and select the University of Arizona as your region. A short explanation of the app will be presented to you. Once you review the introductory screens, Covid Watch Arizona will ask for permission to run in the background, just like other apps do on your phone now. Approve the app to run in the background, and you're all set up. There’s nothing else you need to do to make Covid Watch Arizona work on your phone.

Covid Watch Arizona leverages the recently developed Google and Apple Exposure Notification System. Because the technology is so new, there are specific system requirements for downloading and running Covid Watch Arizona on your smartphone or mobile device:

  • iPhone users: Compatible with iPhone models 6S or later that have iOS version 13.6 installed
  • iPod users: Compatible with iPod Touch (7th generation) that has iOS version 13.6 installed
  • Android users: Compatible with Android devices that support Bluetooth Low Energy and Android Version 6 (API 23) or higher

No. Covid Watch Arizona is an anonymous exposure notification app that lets you know if you have had potential exposure to COVID-19. It does not track your location, your movement, or your contacts. Contact tracing is a manual process in public health that involves identifying people who have COVID-19 and reaching out to people they know they’ve come into close contact with, to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Exposure notifications can help alert app users of potential exposure, even before they may experience symptoms, so that they can quickly take action to protect others around them from COVID-19.

Covid Watch Arizona was created by Covid Watch, an international nonprofit that was founded by University of Arizona alumna, Tina White. The organization operates under the goal of helping the world safely and securely come back together. The Covid Watch team is made up of more than 500 volunteers and experts from around the world. In partnership with the State of Arizona, University of Arizona is the first to pilot the app. The University has been working closely with the Covid Watch team on testing and preparing the app for a large-scale rollout.

A Spanish-language version of the app is planned for release in early 2021.

Exposure Notifications

First, a Covid Watch Arizona app user chooses to anonymously share their positive COVID-19 test result by entering a verification code in the app. Then, Covid Watch Arizona will automatically and privately notify other app users that have been close enough, for long enough, to possibly be exposed. No personally identifiable information is distributed to other phones or app users.

Covid Watch Arizona will only send an anonymous exposure alert if a user shares a verified positive COVID-19 test result and a random test verification code from Campus Health. That code must be entered into the app, before an exposure notification is sent.

Notifications will look very similar to any other app notification you receive, like when you get a text message, or someone tags you on a social platform. No one else will know if you have been notified.

No. Covid Watch Arizona only uses in-app notifications to let users know about potential COVID-19 exposure. The app does not access a user’s contacts, communicate via text message, or notify users of their own COVID-19 test results.

You will only get a notification when someone you were in close contact with receives a verification code after they test positive for COVID-19 and chooses to share their diagnosis anonymously through the app.

Your exposure notification and what to do will depend on your potential exposure level. Next steps range from being asked to simply self-isolate and monitor your health. Other notifications may ask you to contact Campus Health for a COVID-19 test and follow up with the University’s SAFER manual contact tracing team.

Covid Watch Arizona was not designed for use outside of Arizona.

If you received your positive test result from Campus Health, your verified code may have been provided to you verbally by your doctor or nurse when you received your positive test result. Your code may also have been included on your test paperwork. If you are unable to locate your code or you received a positive test result from someplace other than Campus Health, please contact Campus Health for more information and next steps.

Privacy and Security

Covid Watch Arizona does not use or store any personally identifiable information, and it does not track your location. Instead, the Covid Watch Arizona app sends out secure Bluetooth signals that carry random, anonymous numbers. When another Covid Watch Arizona app user is nearby, their phones note each others’ anonymous signals, and their distance and duration, in the app.

Covid Watch Arizona does not use information that can be traced to an individual. In fact, Covid Watch Arizona uses technology that sets the standard for digital rights and privacy protection in COVID-19 exposure notification apps.

You will not get in trouble. Covid Watch Arizona is more effective the more people download and install it and choose to anonymously notify others. Because there is no identifiable information, your identity is never revealed. The only thing you or others see is the date and duration of possible exposure, which is only based off of anonymous Bluetooth signals between phones that have the Covid Watch Arizona app installed.

Nothing about Covid Watch Arizona is mandatory. Instead, users can choose to enter their random, non-identifiable verification code into Covid Watch Arizona and anonymously alert others. However, the more users download and enable the app, and the more who choose to anonymously notify others, the better we can help stop COVID-19 transmission on our campus.

No, the app will not access your contacts. Covid Watch Arizona will only detect private and anonymous Bluetooth signals from other Covid Watch Arizona app users.

No. Covid Watch Arizona only uses private Bluetooth signals to note the distance between two phones that have Covid Watch Arizona installed, and how long those signals are in proximity to each other. The location of these Bluetooth signals is never tracked, even when you have location services enabled on your device.

This is an Android operating system feature that Google is currently correcting. According to Google’s blog, “...in 2015, with privacy in mind, we designed the Android operating system to prevent Bluetooth scanning unless the device location setting is on. At that time no one could have anticipated that Bluetooth scanning might one day be helpful in controlling a global pandemic like COVID-19.” In Google’s upcoming Android 11 release, you will be able to use exposure notification apps without having location services enabled. However, even when you enable location services on your Android device today, Covid Watch Arizona does not and will not ever access or track your location.

Selecting the University of Arizona as your region will make sure you receive the right information on next steps to take on campus, if you get an exposure alert. That information includes who to contact at Campus Health, where to go at the University for more information, and where you can get a COVID-19 test that will provide the random verification code needed to share a positive COVID-19 diagnosis in the app.

Covid Watch Arizona does not share any personally identifiable information. The only thing the app shares is an exposure alert, which does not share personal information or the identity of individuals who are reporting their positive COVID-19 results.

You can delete the app at any time. However, remember that the app is most effective the more those on campus have the app downloaded and enabled. By simply having the app enabled on your phone, you’re helping to stop the spread of COVID-19 on campus.

Covid Watch Arizona does not collect any personally identifiable data. If you delete Covid Watch Arizona, the app is no longer available on your phone and you will no longer be able to receive exposure notifications.

App Tech Support

If you are experiencing technical difficulties, please visit Covid Watch’s official FAQs to find answers to the most frequently asked questions about the app. You can also access the FAQs within the Covid Watch Arizona app, by clicking on “Get Support.”

If you don’t see the answer you need, you can also click the “Support” button at the bottom of the Covid Watch support page to open a chat box. If you’re still having trouble with the app, submit a request and someone from Covid Watch will respond to your issue.


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