Wisconsin launches COVID-19 contact tracing app

State encourages residents to download or enable the app to help protect their communities


Screenshot of Wisconsin’s new COVID-19 tracing app

WI Exposure Notification, a new mobile app to assist in notifying contacts of people who’ve tested positive for COVID-19, is now live. The voluntary app complements the state’s and partner agencies’ efforts in contact tracing by letting Wisconsinites know faster if they’ve been in close contact with someone who has tested positive, allowing them to take steps to keep themselves and those around them safe.

“WI Exposure Notification is another tool in our toolbox for helping stop the spread across Wisconsin,” said Gov. Tony Evers. “This app is completely voluntary, but the more people who use it, the more effective it will be. Now that we have a vaccine, there’s light at the end of the tunnel, folks, but we’re not in the clear just yet—we still need everyone to do their part to help fight this virus.”

iPhone and Android users will receive notifications on their phones in the coming days providing instructions for downloading or enabling the app. DHS encourages Wisconsinites to follow the instructions to ensure the app is properly installed on their phones. The notifications will be sent from Google to Android users and from Apple to iPhone users.

WI Exposure Notification does not use, collect or store any GPS data or personal details. Instead, it uses Bluetooth technology to anonymously share Bluetooth signals with other smartphones using the app nearby. Wisconsinites who use the app will receive a text message if they test positive for COVID-19 asking if they want to notify other people who were in their close proximity for at least 15 minutes (as tracked by their phone) that they have been exposed to COVID-19. By following the instructions from the text message, the person who tested positive anonymously notifies others of possible exposure. For the app to work properly, Bluetooth must be enabled on the device, and the WI Exposure Notification app must be downloaded and/or enabled before you receive a positive test result.

“Using WI Exposure Notification is an important way you can help stop the spread of COVID-19 in Wisconsin, just like staying home, wearing a mask, physically distancing, and washing your hands,” said DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm. “By downloading or enabling the app, and entering your code if you test positive, you can help notify people of exposure, which can help stop the spread.”

Find the latest information about COVID-19 on the DHS website and follow @DHSWI on Facebook, Twitter(link is external), and @dhs.wi on Instagram.