Covid Tracker Ireland app underwent more than 4,700 hours of testing

16 Jul 20201.01k Views

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The Covid Tracker Ireland app. Image: Luke Maxwell/Siliconrepublic.com

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Expleo said its team put thousands of hours of testing into the Covid Tracker Ireland app before it went live.

Following the recent launch of the Covid Tracker Ireland app, many questions have been asked about what went into its development. Now, the company tasked with putting the app through its paces, tech consulting firm Expleo, has revealed more details on the testing process.

Testing on the app, developed by Waterford-based Nearform, began on St Patrick’s Day 2020, with Expleo carrying out 3,400 individual software tests prior to launch. This work totalled 4,727 hours, equivalent to almost 591 work days. A core team of 10 oversaw testing, with a total of 26 employees involved.

Tests included ensuring that the app could handle large volumes of people downloading it and using it at the same time without crashing; analysing Bluetooth strength between devices; seeing whether it was user friendly; and making sure information was populated in the database without interfering with the anonymised data of other users.

This was done in a number of simulated environments and later on different forms of public transport to ensure only the right users were getting notifications.

Days after its launch, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly, TD, announced that more than 1m users had downloaded the app, which was described as “a huge achievement”. The HSE’s eventual goal is to have 60pc of the country download and use the app.

Speaking of how testing went, Expleo’s managing director for Ireland, Phil Codd, said the company was honoured to be tasked with testing the app.

“Our team went through a rigorous, lengthy process to ensure that the app is fast, reliable and easy to use,” he said.

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“We are delighted to see such high volumes of people downloading it and hope that this will continue so that we can all work together to reduce the risk of Covid-19 infection for everyone.”

Other research

Prior to its official launch, concerns had been raised by groups about the app’s effectiveness at contact tracing and its ability to protect user data. Last month, researchers from Trinity College Dublin (TCD) had called into question the effectiveness of Apple and Google’s API, which is used in the Covid Tracker Ireland app, particularly with how Bluetooth connections are made on public transport.

Meanwhile, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties gave the app a pre-release report card score of a C-plus, noting concerns around its purposes and its efficacy.

Speaking recently to The Irish Times, Nearform’s head of product, Colm Harte, said that using the API developed by Apple and Google was the best option, but is not a perfect solution.

“The decentralised model is better from a privacy perspective, but from an epidemiological perspective, you get a lot less useful information,” he said.

“You can’t, for example, now identify who the super-spreaders are, how many people one person is specifically kind of having contact with, potentially infecting, and all that kind of useful information that those people would want.”

However, he said that he believes the app will be very useful in Ireland’s efforts to track and limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Colm Gorey is a senior journalist with Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com