Protect Scotland contact tracing app downloaded 600,000 times

Scotland’s COVID-19 contact tracing app launched yesterday on Apple’s App Store and Google Play.

Since going live the app has been downloaded by 600,000 people as part of Test and Protect measures in Scotland.

It uses Apple/Google technology similar to the app being trialled on the Isle of Wight, in Newham, and by NHS Volunteer Responders. The app was built by software developers NearForm, the same technology as the Republic of Ireland and Northern Irish proximity tracing apps.

NHS Scotland said “the app is an extra tool complementing the NHS Scotland’s Test and Protect system.”

“Individuals privacy will be protected as the app uses Bluetooth technology to anonymously alert users if they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, and advises them to self-isolate.”

“The app does not store details on an individual or their location but uses encrypted, anonymised codes exchanged between smartphones to determine all close contacts. Close contacts are defined as people who have been within two metres of someone, for 15 minutes.”

Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister, 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.”

“We all have a part to play in suppressing the virus, and downloading the app – alongside other vital measures such as following hygiene and physical distancing guidance – will help protect you, your family and your community.”

“We also know that not everyone uses a smartphone or will be able to or want to access the app, which is why this software is very much there to complement existing contact tracing methods.”

Cian Ó Maidín, CEO, NearForm said: “This open source technology was built with privacy and data protection at its core and, through anonymous keys, allows Scottish citizens to engage, protect each other and break transmission chains.”

“The Scottish Government has taken a great approach, using open source software, that has been peer reviewed and rolled out successfully in Ireland and Northern Ireland.”