NearForm launches contact-tracing app on island of Jersey

14 Oct 2020

The village of Gorey, Jersey. Image: ©

The contact-tracing app developed by NearForm has launched in another region, this time on the island of Jersey.

The largest of the Channel Islands is the latest to adopt the contact-tracing app technology built by Waterford-based NearForm. Following major launches in the US states of New York and New Jersey, people on the island of Jersey are now able to download an app developed by the Irish company to track the spread of Covid-19.

Using Bluetooth with Apple and Google’s exposure notification system, the Jersey Covid Alert app notifies users when they have been in close contact – 15 minutes or more spent within two metres – with a confirmed case of coronavirus.

The app will work alongside the current contact-tracing system in Jersey and when an alert comes through the app, the smartphone user will be advised to talk with the island’s contact-tracing team.

“The app does not replace any other measures currently in place,” said Julian Blazeby, Jersey’s director general for justice and home affairs.

“It has been evidenced that as little as a 15pc take up within the population would have an impact on the ability of this virus to spread within the community.”

Linking Europe

Similar to the Irish app, Jersey Covid Alert only retains necessary data for a 14-day period. The CEO of Digital Jersey, Tony Moretta, emphasised that it does not track a user’s location and, instead, records anonymous IDs of devices.

NearForm CEO and upcoming Future Human speaker, Cian Ó Maidín, said of the launch: “The Jersey Covid Alert app is built with privacy at its core to empower citizens to protect each other and break transmission chains.

“Using open-source peer-reviewed technology, the people of Jersey have a world-class tool which has already been successfully rolled out in Ireland, Scotland and several US states, including New York and New Jersey.”

Efforts are currently underway to link the Covid Tracker Ireland app with its European counterparts, including those in Germany and Italy. As The Irish Times previously reported, a senior European Commission official confirmed the plans and said that it could be completed this month.

If connected, users with one of the apps included in the system would be notified if they have come into close contact with a confirmed Covid-19 case while abroad.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic