Ireland’s contact tracing app ready to launch

The Health Service Executive in Ireland has indicated that the COVID-19 tracker app will be downloadable from Google and Apple app stores, subject to final government approval.
By Sara Mageit
10:40 am
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Ireland’s health authority has expressed plans to go ahead with the launch of their contact tracing app, which will be submitted to Google and Apple for downloading from their app stores at some point this week.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) will firstly submit a memo to government this week on the status of the technology, which has been under development over the past few months.

Subject to approval, it will launch its contact tracing app shortly after.

WHY IT MATTERS

The app will assist health authorities in tracking down people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and will use Bluetooth technology to keep a log of any individuals who have been in close contact.

The announcement comes despite concerns about the accuracy of the app in its current state.

THE LARGER TREND

With concerns raised over data privacy and effectiveness, a challenge for the app may be the adoption rate. The system will require widespread adoption to work effectively. In fact, public health authorities have stated that a 60% adoption rate is required in order for the app to be fully effective.

Other challenges have been highlighted around technical issues and false alerts. Research from Trinity College Dublin showed that Bluetooth technology may not be as accurate, particularly on public transport where there is a lot of metal.  

However, the An Garda Siochana police force volunteered to take part in field trials to see how it would perform in everyday situations and the results have given health officials the confidence to launch the app to the public.

Meanwhile, in a major U-turn last week, Britain said it would switch to the Apple and Google Model for its COVID-19 contact tracing app, ditching its centralised system and aiming for an Autumn launch.

Ireland will be following Germany in launching such an app nationwide.

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