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SIPA USA/PA Images A global map of the virus across the world. (File photo)
# Smartphones
Covid-19: HSE says contact tracing app could be rolled out 'in the next 10 days'
The HSE’s Paul Connors this morning described it as a “very important piece of technology.

LAST UPDATE | Mar 29th 2020, 2:15 PM

THE HSE HAS said it is assisting in the rollout of a Covid-19 contact tracing app that would let users know if they have come into contact with someone with the coronavirus.

The HSE’s Paul Connors this morning described it as a “very important piece of technology” and said it could be introduced “in the next 10 days or so” on an “opt-in” basis.

The confirmation comes following a story in today’s Sunday Business Post which said that the app was being quickly advanced by the HSE. The Sunday Business Post reports that phones with the app installed would communicate with one another and track if they’ve come into close contact. 

Contact tracing smartphone apps have been widely used in countries like Singapore and South Korea, which have been among the most successful at tracking and containing the spread of the virus. 

Singapore’s government developed its own Trace Together app for this purpose and has since made the technology freely available to developers worldwide

Various universities around the globe have been working on similar technologies, allowing users to anonymously share their locations and Covid-19 status to receive alerts about other nearby cases.

At a briefing this morning, Connors said that HSE is involved in cross-government effort to rollout a contact tracing app here. 

This is a cross government effort in relation to a very important piece of technology in fighting Covid-19. It is, yes, it will alert people close to them. It will also provide really important information for people, and it also will feedback important information, where people can, if they choose, provide information about their general state of well-being at a particular time, and that will be fed back in for our epidemiological assessment as we go along.

Such an app would inevitably prompt privacy concerns but Connors said it would not be mandatory and that potential GDPR issues were being looked at. 

“We’re still working very closely with a number of agencies to help us get through some particular peculiarities such as GDPR, we’re working closely with the Data Protection Commissioner on that. And it’s likely that this will be rolled out in the next 10 days or so. And certainly it is an opt-in process for people,” he said.


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