UK declines to use Apple-Google framework for Covid-19 contact tracing app

Topics Britain | Coronavirus | Apple Inc

The NHS app is likely to be rolled out in two to three weeks
The UK has decided not to use the framework proposed by tech giants Apple and Google for its National Health Service (NHS) coronavirus contact tracing app.

NHSX, the digital arm of the country's health organisation, is creating a centralised app that has been flagged for privacy and security issues, Mail Online reported on Tuesday.

The framework proposed by Apple and Google is a decentralised one, meaning that the tracking information will not be stored in a central server.

NHSX, in a blog over the weekend, said that it has prioritised security and privacy in all stages of the app's development, starting with the initial design, and user testing.

Apple and Google have also offered their expertise to help NHSX build its own app.

"We have drawn on expertise from across government and industry to review our design and help test the app," NHSX said in the blog.

"We are working with Apple and Google on their welcome support for tracing apps around the world," it added.

In an unprecedented collaboration earlier this month, Google and Apple announced their decision to pull their expertise for tracking COVID-19 spread with the help of smartphones.

They said that their Bluetooth-driven exposure notification system to enable iOS and Android phones trace the spread of coronavirus is completely safe.

The NHS in Britain is facing questions as to why it needed to have its own framework for coronavirus contact tracing app.

The NHS app is likely to be rolled out in two to three weeks, said the report.

But before that the app is rolled out, it will be tested in a trial with a small number of people.

In retrospective, public-health authorities across countries believe that improved tracking of infected people and their contacts could slow the rate of pandemic spread. In light of this, the technology giants decided to come together in building tools that could help authorities build contact tracing apps, which could be used in the operating systems of the billions of iPhones and Android devices around the world.

Here is how the contact tracing tech work
  • After downloading the public health app, the user will have to permit it to collect anonymous data
  • When he/she meets a person, a record will be made
  • If a person updates his/her status as Covid-19 +ve, the app shall update data on the cloud
  • Other people’s app will check if they had met any Covid+ve person
  • If a match is found, the user will be alerted

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel