How the NHS coronavirus contact-tracing app will work

How the NHS coronavirus contact-tracing app will work

However, others are less convinced of contact-tracing apps' efficacy, due to a variety of reasons not limited to the necessity for vast numbers of people to download the app for it to be a truly trenchant safeguard, an enduring unavailability of reliable testing, and the risk such an open system could be abused.

Apple and Google are building a Bluetooth-based system into their phones to track people's interactions with coronavirus-infected people and reduce the spread of the virus. In a nutshell, this app works only on a voluntary basis.

If it is confirmed in a medical test that the original user was indeed infected, the app will send a stronger red alert, recommending other users to go into quarantine to prevent more people from being infected.

This would make the apps being developed in different parts of the world interoperable, enabling them to work if the user travels internationally.

For NHS, the benefit of using Apple-Google's API in its app is that the health agency won't need to use workarounds to keep monitoring the mobile signals even when the app is inactive. "Guided by this principle, Apple now collects only the information necessary to support the operation of the COVID-19 website and app, such as users' usage of the tool and app; this information does not include information entered by individuals", explained Powderly in the letter.

The BBC says the British health service's digital innovation unit, NHSX, wasn't aware of the project before it was announced on Friday, but now has plans to integrate the new technology into its app.

While this seems to only be the case for Twitter and YouTube TV, we wouldn't be surprised to see more apps automatically offered as PWAs for Chromebooks.

Will the NHS contact-tracing app be safe to use?

During this phase, users will have to download an app to participate in contact-tracing.

Timothy Powderly, Apple's senior director of government affairs, said in a reply that the tech giant doesn't collect any information other than non-personally identifiable app usage and crash data.

"All data will be handled according to the highest ethical and security standards and will only be used for NHS care and research, and we won't hold it any longer than it's needed".

"Proposals laid out today to allow people to voluntarily provide data through an NHS app to improve contact tracing are likely to be crucial in enabling the United Kingdom to move out of the lockdown at some point in the future".

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