Ireland has debuted its COVID-19 Tracker application today, its solution to help detect and slow down the spread of coronavirus. The app is built using the exposure messaging API developed by Apple and Google, and users in Ireland can download it from the App Store now and Google Play.
The COVID-19 Tracker Ireland application was released in the App Store today by the Health Service Executive, which is the agency responsible for providing health and personal social services to anyone living in Ireland. The app has three primary functions, the agency says:
- Contact tracking
- COVID-19 check-in to monitor symptoms and track how you are feeling
- Updates and information for the latest corona virus facts and figures in Ireland
Contact tracking identifies people who were in close contact with someone who has coronavirus. For example, family members, friends, colleagues or other travelers. The app will help contact tracking through:
- Reduce the time it takes to warn you if you are a close contact
- Announces close contacts that may have been forgotten
- Enables us to contact people who are unknown to each other
The app uses Bluetooth technology and anonymous ID to log in:
- Every phone you connect with also has the app installed
- The distance between your phone and other phones using the app
- How long your phone is near other phones using the app
HSE explains that the app will download a list of anonymous ID every two hours, which reinforces the importance of widespread adoption of the new application:
Every two hours, the app on your phone retrieves a list of anonymous IDs. These have been shared with HMS by people using the app who have tested positive for coronavirus. If you have been closer than 2 meters for more than 15 minutes with any of these phones, you will be notified that you are a close contact. You do not know who the contact is or where the contact happened.
You can also use the COVID-19 Tracker app to report that you have tested positive for COVID-19.
Privacy is a tent bar in the Exposure Notification API and perhaps the biggest privacy protection in Apple and Google’s technology is that location data doesn’t matter how it works. The two companies say that these applications should collect as little data as possible and location data is not needed for this Bluetooth-based approach.
More information about Exposure Notification API:
- The whole system is opt-in
- Other contact tracking applications will be allowed in App Stores; they can adopt Apple and Google APIs, but they must remove all Location Services features and adopt the Apple and Google API privacy frameworks
- Contact tracking data is stored only on a user’s device
- Contact tracking information is only processed on a user’s device
- The public health body can define what constitutes an exposure event
- The public health body can determine the number of exposure events a person has had
- Transfer risk for positive cases can be included in the definition of an exposure event
- The public health body can contact exposed users based on a combination of APIs and data that users voluntarily choose to enter into the app
The COVID-19 Tracker Ireland application is available for free in the App Store for iPhone users in Ireland. Android users can also find it in the Play Store in Ireland. You can follow the adoption of Apple and the Google Exposure Notification API in the US here. Britain announced last month that they will use the Apple and Google Exposure Notification API after all.
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