The NHS COVID-19 Contact Tracing App

Last week saw the launch of the NHS COVID-19 contact tracing app that the Isle of Wight is lucky to be trialling before the rest of the country.

We are firm believers that the Island is a great testing ground for new technology, and thoroughly support this app which has the potential to save many lives. There have been more than 55,000 downloads already.

Being software developers ourselves, we know and understand the technology that this app uses. It is understandable that some may have concerns at first regarding security and privacy, but in our opinion these fears have been addressed as follows:

  1. Location – The app uses Bluetooth rather than GPS, so it does not track your location.
  2. Anonymity – The app knows nothing about you, not even your name. Your identity is only revealed if you choose to report symptoms to the NHS through the app. Others you have been in contact with are then sent an alert, anonymously.
  3. Transparency – The entire code has been published on GitHub for anyone to view and dissect.
  4. Privacy – A 30-page Data Protection Impact Assessment has been published which details exactly what data is captured, processed and stored.

Resident tech enthusiast Steve Clark of Clark Associates has written a fantastic essay – “The NHS COVID-19 App, Separating Fact from Fiction” which is well worth a read.

There’s also a comprehensive page of FAQs on the NHS COVID-19 app website, I encourage you to read them if you have any questions.

If you’re experiencing technical issues or have an incompatible smartphone, please report an issue, as all feedback will help the trial.

If you are an Isle of Wight resident, download the app here – https://covid19.nhs.uk

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