More than a quarter of a million smartphone users have downloaded Northern Ireland’s StopCovid NI coronavirus contact tracing app, equivalent to 13% of its total population, two weeks after it was launched.
Health minister Robin Swann said that 39 users who have tested positive for coronavirus have uploaded unique diagnosis keys to the app, which has led to the issuing of 19 exposure notifications to self-isolate. “While the app is still in its infancy, it is really positive and reassuring to see that the app is already helping in preventing spread of Covid-19,” he said.
Like other contact tracing apps, StopCovid NI uses the Bluetooth standard to attempt to log smartphones which are within two metres for 15 minutes or more. It stores anonymous keys, which are only used if a contact tests positive.
StopCovid NI is available for smartphones running Apple and Google operating systems. On Monday 17 August it had an average user rating of 3.8 out of five on Apple’s App Store and 3.2 on Google Play. Some Google Play reviewers complained that the app did not work on various phone models, while some Apple users said the app froze.
First in UK
Northern Ireland is the first part of the UK to have a working app of this kind. One of its partners was Irish open source software developer NearForm, which also developed the Republic of Ireland’s Covid Tracker app launched by the Health Service Executive in early July. The two apps are compatible.
In England, the Department for Health and Social Care recently launched a new trial version which decentralises data collection and will be tested on the Isle of Wight and Newham in London. The Scottish Government is working to adapt the Irish app for a launch in the autumn.
Image from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0