Developer of Irish Covid tracker app brings its tech to the US

16 Sep 2020

The Covid Tracker Ireland app. Image: Luke Maxwell/

After rolling out its app in Ireland and parts of the UK, NearForm has launched similar tech in Delaware.

The Irish company behind the country’s Covid-19 contact-tracing app is now rolling out similar tech in the US. Waterford-based NearForm is launching the Covid Alert DE app in the US state of Delaware, in partnership with local authorities, to help track the spread of the coronavirus.

The app is similar to the company’s Covid Tracker Ireland app, which was launched at the beginning of July. Both are built on the exposure notification API developed by Apple and Google, which identifies when one person comes in contact with another on a given day based on Bluetooth ‘handshakes’ from their devices.

If one person then voluntarily logs in the app that they have been diagnosed with Covid-19, anyone else with the app who was recently in close contact with them will be notified anonymously. Close contact is defined as being within six feet of someone for 15 minutes or more.

Cian Ó Maidín, CEO of NearForm, said the technology has been peer-reviewed and rolled out successfully in Ireland and parts of the UK.

“The Covid Alert DE mobile app puts power in citizens’ hands to protect each other in the fight against Covid-19,” he added. “The open-source technology was built with privacy and data protection at its core.”

While the Covid Alert DE app will be available to anyone over 18 who lives, works or attends college in Delaware, it will also allow for interoperability across the US in states that also have exposure notification apps based on the Bluetooth tech.

John Carney, governor of Delaware, said the app will be an “important tool” for helping people in his state stem the spread of the virus.

“Knowing you’ve had a potential exposure and taking the basic precautions is the best way to protect your most vulnerable family members, friends and neighbours who are at risk of serious illness,” he added.

Roll-out of Irish tech

The source code of the NearForm app went global earlier this year. In July, the Linux Foundation Public Health initiative chose the app as one of its first two open-source Covid-19 projects.

Under the project name Covid Green, the source code was made available for other public health authorities and their developers across the world to use and customise. In its announcement, the Linux Foundation pointed to the “extraordinarily high” adoption rate of the Covid Tracker Ireland app.

Since it was launched, the app has been downloaded by more than 1.7m people. NearForm’s contact-tracing tech is now being used in Ireland, Northern Ireland, Gibraltar and Scotland.

Sarah Harford was sub-editor of Silicon Republic