The Scottish Government has launched its national Covid-19 contact tracing app with a call for the public to use it in the effort to control the pandemic.
Named Protect Scotland, it has been made available through the Apple and Google stores for smartphones and is supported by a dedicated website as part of NHS Scotland’s Test and Protect system.
It uses Bluetooth technology to anonymously alert users if they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus and advises them to self-isolate. Users who test positive will still get a call from a contact tracer to confirm their details and who they have been in contact with.
The app does not store details on individuals or their location but uses encrypted, anonymised codes exchanged between smartphones to determine all close contacts – defined as people being within two metres of someone who has tested positive for 15 minutes.
It was built by software developers NearForm, with the source code available on a GitHub site, and uses the same technology as the tracing apps used in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “The launch of the app is a welcome development which will offer an additional level of protection – supporting NHS Scotland’s Test and Protect system as it works to drive down the spread of COVID-19 across the country.
“I would encourage everyone to download the free app if they have a compatible smartphone, and help slow the spread of COVID-19. This will support the work of NHS Scotland and has the potential to help avoid local lockdowns.
“The more people who download and use the app, the more effective it can be in helping to make connections that may otherwise have been missed. This will allow people to self-isolate quickly if they are exposed to the virus, reducing the risk of them infecting others.”
The Scottish Government said it remains in discussion with the UK Government regarding its planned contact tracing app.
Image by Andri Koolme, CC BY 2.0