The Scottish Government has announced a contact-tracing app will that will be released in the autumn to try and control the spread of Covid-19.
Working in conjunction with the newly released Test and Protect system, released by the government last week, the app will help to track the virus and get people with symptoms access to a test.
The proximity tracing app will be available via the Apple and Google app stores and will use Bluetooth technology to anonymously alert users if they have been in close contact with another user who has tested positive for coronavirus.
If an individual tests positive for the virus, they will receive a unique code to their mobile. If they give permission, the data will then be sent to a server so close contacts also using the app can be traced.
The software is voluntary and does not ask users for any personal information. The app is developed by Nearform and will use the same software as the app rolled out in the Republic of Ireland, which has now been adapted for use in Northern Ireland. The Scottish version will use that same software to track movement between the three countries.
Scottish Health Secretary Jeane Freeman commented: “This new app will offer an additional level of protection, supporting NHS Scotland’s Test and Protect system to continue to drive down the spread of Covid-19 across the country.
“It builds on the existing person to person contact tracing which remains the most robust method of contacting those who have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive.
“Users of the app who test positive will still get a call from a contact tracer to confirm their details and who they have been in close contact with. The app will, however, allow contacts unknown to the positive individual to be traced – for example, fellow passengers on a train or bus.”
Freeman added: “We also know that not everyone uses a mobile phone or will be able to access the app, which is why this software is very much there to complement existing contact tracing methods.”
- New test could identify covid-19 in an hour using artificial intelligence
- University of Strathclyde set to boost SME manufacturing firms in Scotland
- Australia to force tech giants to pay for news in landmark move
The app has come under criticism from opposition leaders in parliament for its release date and the length of time it has taken for contact tracing to be developed.
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard told the Daily Record: “This is a total shambles. The importance of contact tracing was apparent from the off. We’re now in the sixth month of Covid-19 and the Scottish Government is still flip-flopping over contact tracing apps.
“Businesses and services which have been seeking to implement contact tracing since they re-opened will be aghast and rightly concerned that continued confusion will undermine the fight against the virus.”