In Germany with a delay launch the app to track the chain of infection of SARS-CoV-2. DW responds to the main issues associated with this development.
“You can do this quickly, but bad and slow, but good” – words of a pioneer of cosmonautics of Sergei Korolev to describe the situation with the launch in Germany of the application, a warning about the possible risk of Contracting coronavirus. German developers are unable to meet at the appointed time. While South Korea and China had submitted a similar application in March, European countries released their version later, France and Italy, for example, in early June. DW studied the German program and answers key related issues.
How the application will ensure the protection of personal data?
Unlike the Chinese application that fully tracks all movements of the user and forwards the collected data to the authorities, the German application in principle does not determine the location of users. The app doesn’t keep track of where the people who installed it: but it shows what app users, which is called the “Corona-Warn-App”, were near infected people.
It uses the wireless technology bluetooth. Phone users who have installed the application share data stored in a decentralized manner – only on personal smartphones. They are coded so that the owners could not read them. Two weeks later, the information is destroyed automatically.
Some user data is still stored on the servers used by the application, and servers identifying the user. But the data is anonymized and are only used to forward the key for verification and other data needed for the application.
The application source code to combat the spread of coronavirus were previously open to everyone: a step taken in order to strengthen the trust of users and make the application transparent.
How the app will alert you that someone is sick?
The developers of the app who are in close contact with the authorities came up with the following warning scheme: in the case of a positive test for the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 infected will get generated for it QR-code which should scan using the app on your smartphone.
The application installed in the infected, sends data to a Central server in anonymous form. The server sends warnings in the form of a push notification to all who were near with the patient COVID-19 in the last two weeks for at least 15 minutes.
Connecting laboratories to test for the presence of coronavirus, the application is the need to ensure that nobody will be able to raise a false alarm. Those who will receive the alert will receive both recommendations, how to behave, for example, to go to the doctor for the direction to test for coronavirus and go to quarantine.
When the start and who can use application?
Developers companies Deutsche Telekom and SAP – run the application on 16 June. Use them owners of relatively new smartphones: Android sixth version (Marshmallow) and later and iOS 13.5 and newer. The devices must be installed Google Play services – new smartphone brand Huawei for example, they are not installed. The first version of the app will be available in Germany in German and English. But it is expected that the application will support other languages.
What are the disadvantages of the application against the coronavirus?
First the drawback: not all laboratories testing for SARS-CoV-2, and not all local health agencies have the necessary instruments for the distribution of test results and generation of QR codes. If the infected were in such a laboratory he will have to transfer the data about themselves on a specially created hotline. A day call center is theoretically able to take up to thousands of calls.
Patients will be asked to answer some verification questions to the call center was able to verify that the caller is indeed infected. The questions are formulated in such a way as not to force the patients to violate their rights to protection of their personal data. But the risks that such a complicated procedure it will happen remain the same as the probability of false alarm announcement.
What other European applications?
The main drawback of the German application, like all other similar programs: they are an attempt to solve the problem only at the national level. The data exchange between them is not provided. Even within the EU using seven different technologies, which are the apps for tracking chains of coronavirus. Positive news: apps in Germany, Austria and Switzerland in the foreseeable future will have to transmit data to each other, as their code is based on a single standard developed by American companies Google and Apple.
For those who are going abroad, it remains only to download anticorrosiveness application in each country. In Austria there is no need to prove the existence of infections to send a warning signal, as in the UK. But there is an additional mechanism to cancel false alarms.
There are other problems that can be seen from the following example: suppose the German laboratory establishes that the patient contracted after a stay in France. French app, however, will not circulate the alert to until a positive test is confirmed in one of its national laboratories.
Application against coronavirus quickly drains the battery?
This is one of the concerns of users and important task for the developers of the app: German is not constantly watching for the appearance within the coverage area of other smartphones, and doing it only for short intervals so that its load on the battery is negligible.
In which case, the application makes sense in the fight against the coronavirus?
According to experts, about 60 percent of the country needs to install the app in order to make it effective. The Minister of health of Germany Jens span (Jens Spahn) said that it would be better if the app will work on several million smartphones in Germany.
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