The Government have today (Thursday 13th August) announced the release of a brand new version of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) Test and Trace App.
One of the concerns raised on the first version of the App – that was rolled out on the Isle of Wight in May 2020 – was that anyone in the World could download the App, as it was freely available on the App stores.
This led to uncertainty as to whether the reported 55,000 downloads were all from those living on the Isle of Wight.
This time each household on the Isle of Wight will be posted a unique code, which should minimise this happening again.
Listened to feedback
They say they’ve listened to feedback from users of the previous App and built the new version accordingly – adding that it was built by brightest and best minds, working closely with Google and Apple.
This time the App will have a means for users to know that it’s still working. It displays a graphical heartbeat – this was included after version one users didn’t think App was doing anything.
There are two functions which run in parallel:
- Bluetooth for detecting if you’ve been near people. They say the issues with Apple phones, where only 4% continue to detect people nearby, has been dealt with.
- QR code based location tracking (has been a success in New Zealand)
Tracks the virus not people
The App has been designed with users’ privacy in mind – it tracks the virus not people.
The App will notify users if they’ve been less than two metres away for 15 mins from someone who has tested positive for Covid-19.
Users can toggle on or off the contact tracing – for example, if you leave your phone in a locker or have full PPE on you can switch it off easily.
Stewart: Coronavirus has not gone
Dave Stewart, Leader of the Isle of Wight Council said:
“Earlier this year, as part of the response to coronavirus, the Island took part in testing the first NHS COVID-19 app.
“As a direct result of our incredible, collective effort an improved app has been developed and now, we along with others are being asked to help test this app once again.
“We are starting to see our communities open up again, and a return to a more normal way of life.
“But coronavirus has not gone and until a vaccine or treatment is found, testing and contact tracing is the best way to stop the virus from spreading further. This app is another tool in our toolkit for helping to contain the virus.”
Seely: “Very strong community support last time”
Isle of Wight Conservative MP, Bob Seely, said,
“The Island has again been asked to help trial the Trace and Test App. We’ve been asked specifically because of the very strong community support last time, which has been recognised by the Government. They have come back to ask for our support again. Much of the feedback that Islanders previously gave has been incorporated into the new app.
“This time, to broaden the testbed, the app will also be tested in an urban area, as well as with emergency workers.
“The app has changed. It looks in some ways similar to the previous one, but the technology behind it has changed – in part because of what was learned from the previous test – and it has many more functions.
“A letter will be arriving to every Island household from Friday onwards. Please download this new iteration of the app. I am hoping very much that we can support this improved version as much as we did the previous version. We are doing this for the same reason we did it the first time around. Firstly, it helps protect Islanders. Secondly, as visitors come back to the Island it will help protect both them and us. Third, because it is good for our nation.
“You’ll get alerted if you have been near other app users who have tested positive for the virus, or in venues in which there has been infections. It will ask how you are and give advice.
“Personal data does not leave the device and users control their data.
“As part of the app’s capabilities, QR codes – the square matrix barcode – can be used by businesses to help customers sign in. This will give us all extra confidence that a test and trace system will enable us to get back to normal life whilst being considerate to others and thoughtful of our health.
“I am asking all businesses – and especially those in the hospitality and visitor sector – to download and advertise the QR Code.
“Next steps will include getting visitors signed up as well. I know that Visit Isle of Wight has also very sensibly suggested that the ferries should also use the QR codes. I will be following this up with them.
“More broadly, in the coming months we will move from coming out of generalised lockdown to a system whereby we protect specific groups more whilst enabling others to get back to a greater sense of normality.
“We need to get back to a position where people can get on with their lives whilst doing our best to suppress the virus and protect the most vulnerable. The app, and the test and trace scheme, is the best way of getting back to doing the things we love.”
Readers of News OnTheWight will not be missing that this launch is happening as the Government has booked a week of advertising slots to run across the site promoting the new trial.
11.30am 13th Aug 2020 – Comment from leader added
9.30pm 14th Aug 2020 – Added “who has tested positive for Covid-19” in section about being alerted when 2m away for 15mins