Ireland’s Covid Tracker app is one of the first to interlink with other countries in Europe, starting with Germany and Italy.
Ireland’s Covid-19 contact-tracing app will now be interlinked with national apps from Italy and Germany. This will mean that people with the Irish app will receive an alert if they are a close contact of someone who has been diagnosed with Covid-19 and who has installed an approved EU member state app on their phone.
It’s part of a new EU-wide system, known as the interoperability gateway service, which was developed by the European Commission (EC) to link national Covid-19 apps across borders. It was launched today (19 October) 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 and warning apps.
Similar to the national apps, the anonymised IDs will only be stored in the gateway for up to 14 days. The EC confirmed that the individual apps only connect with their own national back-end server, and the back-end servers for different countries’ apps do not connect directly with each other.
The gateway was developed and set up by companies T-Systems and SAP, and is operated from the EC’s data centre in Luxembourg. While the gateway service will initially work with just three countries’ apps, the EC said that two-thirds of the apps developed by EU member states are compatible.
‘So proud of what Ireland has achieved’
The Covid Tracker Ireland app is part of the first wave of national apps linked through the European interoperability gateway. Once they are ready to connect, the number of interlinked apps is set to increase later this month and in November, with other apps invited to connect at a later stage.
“I am so proud of what Ireland has achieved, being one of the first countries to interlink apps at an EU level with Germany and Italy,” said the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly, TD.
“Ireland has consistently been a leader in the development of contact-tracing apps and had one of the world’s most successful contact-tracing app launches, with a huge uptake in the first 24 hours. While the general advice in Ireland is currently against non-essential travel overseas, this system will be of benefit for those undertaking essential travel to and from Ireland.”
So far, the app has had 2.1m registrations with an active user base of 1.31m, representing 34pc of Ireland’s population over the age of 16.
NearForm, the Waterford-based company behind the Covid Tracker Ireland app, is now rolling out its technology further. It has helped launch contact-tracing apps in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Jersey, Gibraltar, and several US states including New York.