As the worldwide pandemic continues to ravage through many countries internationally, Ireland has managed to get a decent hold on it and contain it to a certain extent, even if we won’t be seeing any large gatherings for the foreseeable future. Whilst we’re starting to see single-digit numbers of new cases, there’s always the potential for another breakout – a second-wave. The HSE has been gearing up for a while now in order to make sure they have the capacity not just to deal with this initial wave, but to deal with any future breakouts as well. That’s why the COVID-19 contact tracing app is so important, and why you should download it as soon as you can.
The HSE’s COVID-19 tracking app is actually extremely well-made, utilising the Google and Apple API which is on every single Android smartphone above Android 6, and every iPhone above the iPhone 6s. It’s decentralised, meaning data is stored on the device, and you don’t even need to submit your phone number if you don’t want to. If you’re diagnosed with COVID-19, you’ll be given a code that you enter into your app, and all devices that have been within 2 meters of you for 15 minutes or longer will be notified. The list of devices that you have been near is stored only on your smartphone and is never uploaded to the HSE’s servers.
Even launching the app will present you with a large data protection statement that tells you exactly what is and isn’t happening with your data. There should also be a minimum impact on battery life, as the API used is already part of your device.
If you want to download the COVID-19 contact tracing app (and you really, really should), the links to the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store are below. More technical information on the Exposure Notification API which the app uses can also be seen below.
- The entire system is opt-in
- Other applications for contact tracing will be allowed in the App Stores; they can adopt Apple and Google’s API, but they must remove all Location Services features and adopt the privacy frameworks of the Apple and Google API
- Contact tracing data is only stored on a user’s device
- Contact tracing data is only processed on a user’s device
- Public health agencies can define what constitutes an exposure event
- Public health agencies can determine the number of exposure events a person has had
- Transmission risk of positive cases can be factored into the definition of an exposure event
- Public health agencies can contact exposed users based on a combination fo the API and data that users voluntarily choose to input into the app