1m downloads of Covid Tracker Ireland app called ‘a huge achievement’

9 Jul 2020

Image: © Michele Ursi/Stock.adobe.com

The Minister for Health is calling for as many people as possible to download the Covid Tracker Ireland app as it hits the 1m downloads milestone.

The HSE is continuing to ask people in Ireland to download the Covid Tracker Ireland app as part of the country’s efforts to be ready for any potential future waves of the pandemic.

It comes as the app has now passed the 1m downloads mark in the space of 48 hours.

HSE CEO Paul Reid encourages those who haven’t downloaded it to follow suit.

“The app comes at an important time as we begin to move about more and will support us in managing future cases,” he said.

“I would encourage those who have not yet downloaded the app to do so, and for the 1m people who have already downloaded the app, I would ask them to share it with their friends and families. The more people who download the app the greater its impact will be.”

However, in order to fully avail of the app, a user must have either iOS 13.5 or Android 6.0 and higher as they are compatible with the Apple and Google Exposure Notification API. Phones using older operating systems will not be able to use the contact-tracing feature.

The app’s purpose is for digital contact tracing of close contacts of confirmed cases of Covid-19, as well as allowing users to record if they have symptoms and providing daily information about Covid-19 from the HSE.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly, TD, said that to have 1m downloads in the space of 48 hours is “a huge achievement”.

Aiming for 2.2m downloads

“I want to thank everyone who has downloaded it, and especially the team who have worked so hard to develop it,” said Donnelly.

“Using this app means you are protecting yourself, you are protecting your family, you are protecting your friends, and you are protecting many people you don’t know. I’m asking you to take the two minutes and download it now.”

Speaking yesterday, Reid said that the HSE is aiming for 60pc of the country’s adult population of smartphone users to download the app, estimated as approximately 2.2m downloads.

As with all contact-tracing apps, issues of data privacy have been raised about Covid Tracker Ireland. Just prior to its launch, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties gave it a report card score of a C-plus noting concerns around its purposes and its efficacy.

However, the ICCL commended the Government and its developers for publishing much of the app’s documentation and source code for scrutiny.

The HSE’s interim CIO, Fran Thompson, said: “The app augments our current testing and tracing effort. It has been developed with privacy by design at its core, employing the decentralised model. Phones exchange random IDs. If you test positive for Covid-19 and are using the app, you can choose to alert other app users anonymously.

“The app’s success is down to the people of Ireland. Thank you.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic