Coronavirus Track & Trace Apps On A Deadline

The British  government revealed details of the British Coroavirus contact tracing app developed by the British Healthcae technology divison NHSX, which is now being tested on the Isle of Wight and  if it proves successful will then be launched to the rest of the UK. Contact tracing identifies those who may have come into contact with an infected person - either through an app or by phone and email - so they can avoid potentially passing the disease on.

The app went live on the island on May 5. virus cases in the UK have reached more than 246,406 and are still increasing and it looks like time is running out to finalise a test, track and trace strategy to avoid a possible second surge in coronavirus cases,

The NHS Confederation has warned of "severe" consequences to staff and patients if the right system was not established quickly, saying that lockdown measures should not be eased until a clear plan was in place.NHSX

It follows the Prome Minister Boris Johnson's pledge to introduce the NHSX system in England from June. But in a letter to Health Secretary Matt Hancock, the NHS Cofederation warned that without a clear strategy the UK was at greater risk of a second peak of the virus. The Department of Health said it would set out details about test, track and trace in due course and it had recruited 21,000 contact tracers with "thousands more to follow".

NHSX App

The June target date for wider deploymnt of the NHSX app coincides with the earliest possible date for the gradual reopening of schools and non-essential shops in England and at least one British government's most senior scientific advisers has said an effective tracing system needed to be in place before lockdown restrictions could be changed.

The purpose of the contact-tracing app is to try and track down people and alert them of the needs for self-isolation faster than traditional methods. Users who download the app to their phone can voluntarily opt-in to record details of their symptoms when they start to feel unwell

The app keeps a trace of others who have been in close contact through Bluetooth signals that transmit an anonymous ID. These low energy Bluetooth signals perform a digital "handshake" when two users come into close contact, but keep that data anonymous. 

Apple & Google App

The two tech giants have collaborated to offer every country a piece of technology that will help turn all iPhones and all Android phones (apart from newer Huawei devices) into contact tracing devices. Apps that use the API (which must be made by a public official) send users “exposure notifications” if they have been in contact with someone who contracted coronavirus. 

The system records contact as when a smartphone is within a couple of feet of another device for up to 10 minutes. Bluetooth wireless technology can sense devices from up to 15ft away.

Even if people from different countries or states have different contact tracing apps, the system is interoperable and will be able to alert them to exposure. Authorities that want to collect location data of people will not be allowed to use the technology, but are open to building their own. 

In coming months, they will integrate the technology directly into their operating systems to reach more people. In contrast to the NHSX app which is being developed on an incompatibe centralised database concept. The Apple / Google tools will be “decentralised” and not send data to central health authorities, but will instead pass it from phone to phone.

Google said that the tools would be added to Android via a download in the Google Play store. Apple will offer it via an iOS software update. Apple said the goal is to make it compatible with as many iPhones as possible, including older models.

The Apple / Google functionality will only be available to public health apps so outsider developers won’t be able to use that data. It also means that users will have to download an official app to input test results.

BBC:       Telegraph:      Express

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