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California COVID Notify Pilot Program

California COVID Notify Pilot Program

Add California COVID Notify to your phone. Help fight COVID-19.

One of the key tools to fight COVID-19 and slow its spread on campus and in the community is right in your pocket. 

CA COVID Notify, published by the State of California, uses the Exposure Notifications System from Google and Apple to alert you when you’ve been exposed to COVID-19. It will quickly notify you if you’ve likely been exposed, allowing you to seek medical attention and reduce risk for your loved ones. Find out how to install CA COVID Notify on your phone.

This program has the potential to help stop the spread of the infection and its use is highly encouraged, but it is completely voluntary. Users may turn the system on or off at any time, or uninstall the app on an Android device. The system does not collect, track or store users’ location, GPS information, or personal information. Find out more about the CA COVID Notify privacy policy.

The pilot is for UC San Diego students and employees

UCSF and UC San Diego are helping the State of California pilot CA COVID Notify. UC San Diego students and employees are eligible and encouraged to participate.

The Exposure Notifications System is a pilot program and notifications can only be triggered by individuals who are tested at UC San Diego.

How the Exposure Notifications System works

View the Exposure Notification video in Spanish.

Activate CA COVID Notify on iOS or download the Android app

You can use CA COVID Notify on either an iPhone or Android phone, but the way it works on each device is different. For the iPhone, you download a profile that works with the Safari browser and then enable Exposure Notifications; on Android, you simply download the CA COVID Notify app.

Frequently-asked questions about installing Exposure Notifications on your phone can be found at the bottom of this page.


Enable the Exposure Notifications

  1. Go to Settings > Exposure Notifications > Turn on Exposure Notifications.
  2. Tap “Continue” and select United States > California.
  3. Complete CA Notify Onboarding.


If you have an Android phone, the CA COVID Notify app can be downloaded from Google Play using this link. Since this program is in its pilot phase, the app is not public on Google Play and cannot be found by searching the Play Store.

How was your experience installing the CA COVID Notify Program on your phone?
Take the CA COVID Notify Installation Survey »

How the technology works on your phone

  • When you opt in and the Bluetooth is on, your smartphone will generate and transmit anonymous keys (long strings of random characters). These keys can’t be used to identify your location. Keys change every 10-20 minutes to further preserve your identity and privacy.

  • Whenever you carry your phone with you and are near other people, your phone and theirs will work in the background, exchanging these privacy-preserving anonymous keys. This is a passive process that begins once you opt in and functions without the app open. It does not drain your battery or use data.

    Your phone will record the day that the anonymous keys were received, the duration of the signal, and the distance between the two phones (using Bluetooth signal strength as an approximation). These keys are stored on your phone for 14 days, then automatically deleted.

  • Several times a day, your phone downloads a list of all the anonymous keys associated with positive COVID-19 cases, and checks them against the list of anonymous keys it has encountered in the last 14 days.

  • If you have a matching key, the app runs a mathematical calculation developed by epidemiologists using the date, duration, and signal strength to assess your level of risk. You will be notified of an exposure only if the calculation meets the risk threshold. If you receive a notification, you will be directed to instructions on what to do next and how to keep yourself and the people around you safe. 

    If you ever test positive for COVID-19, you can choose to share your anonymous keys with other app users to notify them of a possible exposure. Sharing this information helps others protect themselves and stops the virus from spreading. To do this you will get a verification code from a medical provider, lab, or public health contact tracer that will allow your anonymous keys to be uploaded to a server to activate notifications to other users. The verification code is required to ensure that only anonymous keys of someone with a verified positive test are shared. When the other users are notified, they will receive a message that they have had a possible exposure to COVID-19 and the date. The positive user’s identity or phone number is not shared, but it possible that it could be guessed based on the exposure date.

Additional resources

Questions about CA COVID Notify

Why do I need to upgrade my iOS to 14.2?

Users, who participated in the CA COVID Notify pilot, must update their software to iOS 14.2 prior to Monday, November 16, to avoid a loss in COVID-19 exposure coverage. The pilot profile that iOS users were required to download is set to expire eight weeks after installation, which for many is Monday, November 16. If users upgrade their iOS software to 14.2 prior to the expiration date, exposure notifications will remain active and no additional action will be required.

If users do not upgrade to iOS 14.2 prior Monday, November 16, the iOS profile will expire, and exposures will no longer be tracked.

To enable exposure notifications after Monday, November 16, iOS users can go to Settings > Exposure Notifications > United States > California and complete the CA COVID Notify onboarding. Users must have upgraded to iOS 14.2 but will no longer need to download a profile to use CA COVID Notify.

Android users are not impacted by this update. No action is needed.

What measures are in place to safeguard the privacy of CA COVID Notify users?

CA COVID Notify is based on Google Apple Exposure Notification technology, which was designed to safeguard user privacy. The system never collects or shares any location data or personal information with Google, Apple, UC San Diego, the State of California, or other users. In addition, participation is entirely voluntary — users can opt in or out at any time. For more information about the measures in place to safeguard user privacy, see the California Department of Public Health CA COVID Notify privacy policy.

What devices or training do I need in order to participate in the program?

Anyone with an iPhone or Android smartphone who is eligible can participate in the CA COVID Notify pilot. No additional equipment or special training is necessary.

How long will the pilot program last?

While originally designed as a limited 8-week pilot, UC San Diego is working with the state of California to continue the pilot for our user community. More details coming soon.

What happens after the pilot program ends?

Epidemiologists and public health experts will assess the pilot to determine whether exposure notifications are an effective way to curb the spread of COVID-19. Their assessment will help the state determine whether to make the CA COVID Notify available to all Californians. Please note that CA COVID Notify and other exposure notification technologies are not intended to serve as a replacement for human contact tracers.

What should I do if I’ve been exposed to COVID-19?

If you’re a CA COVID Notify user and you receive an exposure notification, you will receive a link to a UC San Diego website that provides you with information about what to do next and how to keep those around you safe. Please visit the website and carefully read and follow the instructions provided.

Does the CA COVID Notify App on Android and Profile on iPhone use a lot of my phone’s data and battery life?

No. The CA COVID Notify app/profile is designed to have minimal effect on data and battery life by using Bluetooth Low Energy technology.

After installing the profile on my iPhone, how do I check that Exposure Notifications were enabled?

  • Go to Settings > Exposure Notifications.
  • If the notifications are properly installed, you should see that the “Exposure Logging Status” is Active and there will be a green checkmark next to it.

On my iPhone in Settings > Exposure Notifications, I see a note at the top of the screen about the installed profile allowing an app developer to collect diagnostic information about Exposure notifications. Is my privacy at risk?

No. As part of the California Covid Notify Exposure Notifications pilot study, you will be asked to install a file on your iPhone (called a “Profile”) that enables iOS to limit the pilot study to only those iPhones that have the Profile loaded on them. The Profile enables some logs to be stored on your phone, which can help resolve problems if you discover any during the pilot study. These logs stay on your phone and aren’t accessible by Apple, UCSD, or the State of California unless you voluntarily choose to share them to help troubleshoot the pilot. The logs include things like the timing of the Bluetooth scans and server configuration values. They do not include information related to the Random IDs that are exchanged with other devices via Bluetooth, information about exposure notifications you may have received, or information related to sharing a positive diagnosis. Please note that the profile description at the top of the Exposure Notifications Settings menu does not apply to the California Covid Notify Exposure Notifications pilot study.

In Settings > Exposure Notifications, I see “Availability Alerts” is switched off. Do I have to enable that setting in order for the Exposure Notifications to work on my iPhone?

No, you do not have to enable “Availability Alerts” on your iPhone in order for the CA COVID Notify Exposure Notifications to work. Turning on that setting will let you know if you are in a region that is utilizing the Exposure Notification tool, but is not necessary for receiving notifications.