UAA rolls out exposure notifications, a COVID tracking tool for all Alaskans

by Marci Suazo  |   

Alaska COVID ENX: Rapid, anonymous alerts to save lives. Learn more at University of Alaska Anchorage helped usher a tool into Alaska this month that aids in the fight against COVID-19. Alaska COVID Exposure Notification Express, or ENX, is a free, anonymous service you can use on your smartphone.

Jennifer Meyer, assistant professor of Public Health, David Parker, professor of Public Health, and Kenrick Mock, computer science professor and College of Engineering dean, were part of the team that helped enable the tool in Alaska. Apple and Google developed ENX, which is already used in other states, and UAA provided the technical, health and communications expertise to get it off the ground.

“The rollout of ENX helps fulfill a university mission to be a good community partner,” says Mock. “Google and Apple did the heavy lifting — they built and deployed the service. However, it’s based on configuration data provided by and updated by UAA. The university plays a key role.”

Here’s how it works: ENX uses secure phone-to-phone randomly generated Bluetooth codes to automatically keep a log of when your phone is near other ENX-enabled phones. When an ENX user tests positive for COVID-19, they  enter their status into their phone. The system  anonymously alerts other ENX users who were recently near them and meet an exposure threshold — within approximately six feet for more than 15 minutes. If you test positive, using ENX to anonymously alert people you were in close contact with saves you time and lets you notify people you may not even know. Quicker notification of close contacts allows people to take immediate steps to protect themselves and their communities.

Enable ENX on an iPhone by turning on “Exposure Notifications” in your settings and following the prompts. Android users can find the app in the Google Play store or in their phone settings.

University employees and students are encouraged to use this new tool to help slow the spread of COVID-19 on our campuses. Find more information and get started on the Alaska COVID ENX website.

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