COVID Tracker app reaches 1M downloads

"Huge achievement" in just 48 hours
  • Deborah Condon

The new COVID Tracker app has reached one million downloads in just 48 hours, the HSE has said.

The app was launched on July 7 with the aim of enhancing contact tracing measures in Ireland, thereby helping to manage the spread of COVID-19.

According to the HSE's chief executive, Paul Reid, the app has come at a key time, when people are beginning to move about more.

"It will support us in managing future cases. I would encourage those who have not yet downloaded the app to do so, and for the one million people who have already downloaded the app, I would ask them to share it with their friends and families. The more people who download the app the greater its impact will be," he commented.

The app has three main functions:
-It allows digital contact tracing of close contacts of confirmed cases of COVID-19
-It allows users to record if they have any COVID-19 symptoms
-It provides daily information about the virus from a trusted source.

The app works phone-to-phone, using Bluetooth technology. If two people with the app are within two metres of each other for at least 15 minutes, they will be considered close contacts.

The new Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, described the number of downloads as a "huge achievement".

"Throughout this pandemic, the Irish people have shown great solidarity and they're still showing it. I want to thank everyone who has downloaded it, and especially the team who have worked so hard to develop it.

"Using this app means you are protecting yourself, you are protecting your family, you are protecting your friends, and you are protecting many people you don't know," he said.

If a person using the app tests positive for COVID-19, they can choose to anonymously alert other app users who they have been in close contact with, including people they may not know.

Those who receive an alert will also have quick and easy access to advice and testing. This will support existing testing and contact tracing measures that are already in place.

According to Fran Thompson, the HSE's interim chief information officer, user privacy was at the core of the app's design.

"It employs the decentralised model. Phones exchange random IDs. If you test positive for COVID-19 and are using the app, you can choose to alert other app users anonymously," he explained.

The app development process has been led by the HSE and the Department of Health, in collaboration with the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO) and An Garda Síochána, together with technical partners from the Irish private sector and scientific partners from Science Foundation Ireland.

In advance of its launch, the HSE and Department of Health published the Data Privacy Impact Assessment and source code for the app, demonstrating the openness and transparency of the app technology.

For more information about the app, click here.

To download it, visit the App Store of Google Play.


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