Covid apps in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Jersey now linked

29 Oct 2020168 Views

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Apps in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Jersey developed by NearForm have been linked to form a joined contact-tracing effort.

As part of efforts to track the spread of Covid-19 internationally, contact-tracing apps in Northern Ireland, Scotland and the island of Jersey are now linked.

Scotland’s health secretary Jeane Freeman also confirmed that an agreement has been reached so that the NHS Covid-19 app used in England and Wales and Beat Covid Gibraltar will join Scotland’s federated server in early November.

“While people are being advised to travel less at the moment, this compatibility will allow those having to travel for essential reasons to continue to be alerted via the Protect Scotland app if they have been in close contact with a positive Covid-19 case while in Northern Ireland or Jersey,” she said.

The apps from Scotland, Northern Ireland and Jersey were all developed by Waterford-based company NearForm.

Interoperability allows for app users to continue exchanging anonymous Bluetooth IDs from personal devices when travelling in different regions. If an app user later tests positive, they can anonymously alert their close contacts in both jurisdictions.

‘Covid-19 doesn’t recognise borders’

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Last week it was announced that the contact-tracing apps of Ireland, Italy and Germany are also now linked as part of a new EU-wide system.

Known as the interoperability gateway service, it was launched by the European Commission after a successful pilot. The system consists of a digital infrastructure that exchanges information about anonymised IDs to and from the back-end servers of participating national contact-tracing apps.

“Covid-19 doesn’t recognise borders and we’re seeing more countries and states collaborate in this effort to provide an additional layer of protection for people who have to travel between jurisdictions,” said NearForm CEO Cian Ó Maidín, who is due to speak at Silicon Republic’s Future Human event later today (29 October).

“These apps put the power in people’s hands to protect themselves and others while helping to slow the spread of Covid-19.”

In addition to apps in Europe, NearForm has launched interoperable apps for the US in the states of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware.

Colm Gorey is a senior journalist with Siliconrepublic.com

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