Ireland Launches COVID-19 App That Uses Apple/Google Exposure Notification API
Ireland today released "COVID Tracker Ireland," a COVID-19 contact tracing app that takes advantage of Apple and Google's Exposure Notification API.
The app, which is opt in, says that users will be alerted if they come in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus. Those exposed will be able to track their symptoms, get advice on what to do, and choose to anonymously warn others they've been in contact with.
The app downloads a list of anonymous IDs every two hours from those who have contracted coronavirus, letting users in Ireland get alerts as soon as possible. Alerts will be triggered if a user has been within two meters of a person who is diagnosed with COVID-19 for more than 15 minutes, so long as both parties have the COVID app installed.
Alerts will advise people who have been exposed to coronavirus to limit their movements and get tested. The app will not inform users who they came into contact with during the exposure notification nor the place where it happened.
According to the app's release notes, Ireland is employing a three prong approach to exposure notification, which includes contact tracing for identifying those who have been in close contact with a person that has coronavirus, COVID check-in for those with coronavirus to share their symptoms and how they feel, and updates and information such as the latest facts and figures on coronavirus in Ireland.
As with all apps that use the Exposure Notification API, usage is opt-in and privacy is a focus. Even after opting in, choosing to share a coronavirus diagnosis is also optional. All data collected is stored on the device itself, and name, location, and movements are not tracked.
In a statement to Ireland's The Journal, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said that the app could be a "really powerful part of the toolkit" for fighting coronavirus.
"It allows every single person to play an extra part. It will allow us to get on with contact tracing in a matter of hours, it will allow people who have the app to completely control their own data, there will be no centralisation of data," Donnolly said.
"The people themselves can choose if they want to anonymously share with close contacts that they have tested positive. It's a very, very powerful tool. We'll be getting into more of the detail tomorrow and we'll be really encouraging as many people as possible to download and use it."
Along with Ireland, several other countries have released apps that use Apple and Google's Exposure Notification API, including Switzerland, Latvia, Italy, Germany, Poland, and Saudi Arabia, while other countries, such as the UK, have apps in the works.
The UK did not originally plan to use Apple and Google's solution, but in mid-June, the National Health Service said that it would adopt the Exposure Notification API after all.
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