Written by Nancy Lee, as part of her Social Marketing Sightings theme.

At the beginning of December, Washington State’s Governor announced a new “COVID Protective” app.

WA Notify is a smartphone app that lets you know when you’ve potentially been exposed to COVID-19. The tool is free, completely private, and does not track your activity or identity.

There is no need to go to an “App Store.” Simply go to settings, scroll down to Exposure Notifications and click on it.

When you have WA Notify enabled, your phone exchanges random, anonymous codes with the phones of nearby people who also have enabled WA Notify on the phones. If a WA Notify user has tested positive for COVID and adds their verification code to the app, WA Notify sends anonymous notifications to any other users who have been near the infected person in the past two weeks.

The application is implemented and managed by the University of Washington in collaboration with the WA State Department of Health.

In the first 24 hours after launch, over a million residents in the state signed up for the app.