NHS Contact Tracing App
Updated: Sep 20, 2020
Towards the start of April, Matt Hancock took the stage at No 10's daily press conference to announce " A new NHS app for contact tracing. If you become unwell with the symptoms of coronavirus, you can securely tell this new NHS app and the app will then send an alert anonymously to other app users that you've been in significant contact with over the past few days, even before you had symptoms, so they know and can act accordingly."
This obviously gained a lot of attention in the media and public, raising numerous questions or concerns. Will this app track my movement 24/7? What other data is being collected?
Alpha Testing at RAF Base
As reported on the 28th April by The Guardians science editor, Ian Sample, the app "will be ready for deployment within three weeks." Although important to note that does not mean it will be released in that time scale.
Testing of the app continues after starting its "Alpha" testing at RAF Leeming towards the end of April, with these tests reportedly going well. Concerns around privacy haven't been fully answered with NHSX, the healthy service's digital innovation unit, saying that they "promised to publish its key security and privacy designs as well as the app's source code, so experts in the field can help ensure it is 'world class'."
Where are we now?
Now into May, the Isle of Wight was chosen as the location to do a live trail with the public. As of May 9th, reports have emerged that the app doesn't work with phones older than four years old, many users reported issues on iPhones and battery drainage concerns on devices of all types.
Although this news may seem like bad news for the apps future, it’s worth remembering that nearly all newly developed apps face teething issues. Whilst most developers are able to fix issues pre-launch during testing without any notice, unfortunately NHSX haven’t had that luxury with every slight bug being highlighted due to being in the public eye.
Best of British!
With the current Covid-19 situation in the United Kingdom and around the world, it is worth giving praise and applause to the team at NHSX, to develop a cross platform app from concept to working test in such a short turnaround amongst all the public scrutiny is nothing short of impressive.
We at CentriVault will continue to follow this story and will keep you updated with any noteworthy developments.