Coronavirus: UK Contact-Tracing App - Ready in Two to Three Weeks

BY CYBER POLE | Updated April 29, 2020

Technology never runs behind when it comes to solving human issues. But, inventing the right technology is the most challenging task as of now.

Developing a coronavirus app has been a herculean task for tech giants from across the UK. With larger numbers of entrepreneurs running for its designings, still, there is less hope that the app will be effective in a short time. Even though there has been some development around the corner for contact tracing, these apps might not become handy very soon claims the NHS chief. Likewise, it may take more than a fortnight.

NHSX, The Digital Face

What has been another surprising factor is that, Mathew Gould, CEO of NHSX disclosed plans to track the location whenever two or more numbers of people come in close contact for more than a minute. Meanwhile, NHSX is the digital face of NHS, it uses technology to deal with any medical outbreak.

Such an app will garner a huge concern amongst the privacy campaigners who have been raising issues regarding COVID-19 tracking app. On the other side, Mr Gould claims that the app comes with an extra request option to “opt-in” rather than a default setting.

When Will It Be Ready?

Mr Gould in his meeting with the Science and Technology Committee stated that the app will be “technically ready” within “two to three weeks”. However, he stated the system to be the first strategy for moving forward. As an essential part of its working, this app would be beneficial in determining the spread thereby decreasing the infection. Likewise, the app would equally help in restructuring the economy too.

In fact, NHS even opted out from the Google-Apple system when both of the companies offered a “decentralized” approach to counter-effective contact tracing. Instead, unlike, many other European countries, the UK apps will run on “centralized model” where diagnosed patients would be linked with their recent contacts. However, he emphasized not to make a false dichotomy where decentralized was a private while centralized was not.

This approach is beneficial due to

  • It spots faulty cases of virus symptoms further revoking unnecessary self-isolation of people
  • Once the test shows a negative result, close contacts can freely intermingle

On the other side, Prof Christophe Fraser who is a crucial adviser for the app development stated that a centralized approach would make epidemiologists viable about the effectiveness and further allowing for new calibration.

Concerning Issues

Data collection being the most important topic, both of the men strongly emphasized on privacy as the foremost priority and collection of data to be anonymous.

Mr Gould claimed that “it would be very useful epidemiologically” for identifying potential hotspot where “the virus was propagating” therefore an update enables the voluntary revelation of contact. Still is not clear that probable contacts would be traced. If so, this will end up tracking a huge database of people.

Experts View

Prof Lilian Edwards a renowned privacy law expert, spoke at the committee about the intrinsic risk in designing such database. These data can be retained even after the end of the pandemic. Likewise, not everyone will go for the app.

Chairman Greg Clark advocated that people may defy their quarantine period by moving out from the isolation. Meanwhile, they can drop their phone at their place and move around relentlessly.

Health Secretariat Briefing

Health Secretary Matt Hancock urged the importance of both human contact tracers along with the usage of technology. He confirmed that over 18,000 manual tracers will complement the work “before or at the same time as the app”.