NearForm contact-tracing apps launched in New York and New Jersey

2 Oct 2020280 Views

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The adoption of contact-tracing tech developed by Waterford-based NearForm is growing in the US, this time in the states of New York and New Jersey.

NearForm continues to build a network of US contact-tracing apps with the launch of two new versions in the states of New York and New Jersey. The apps, Covid Alert NJ and Covid Alert NY, will work similarly to the original Covid Tracker Ireland app developed by Waterford-based NearForm. The company has also helped develop apps for Delaware, Pennsylvania and parts of the UK.

The apps use Apple and Google’s exposure notification system and will notify users if they have been in close contact – within two metres for at least 10 minutes – with someone who has reported that they tested positive for Covid-19. The apps are being made available to everyone over 18 who lives in either state or who attends college there.

NearForm’s tech was first launched in the US last month with the roll-out of an app in Delaware. The number of US states using the Irish company’s app design now stands at four, with all of the apps being able to link together to form a single contact-tracing effort.

This expansion comes after the app’s source code was chosen in July as an open-source contact-tracing project by the recently established Linux Foundation Public Health initiative.

Under the project name ‘Covid Green’, the source code of the Irish app was made available for other public health authorities and their developers across the world to use and customise. As part of the agreement, NearForm will manage the source code repository on GitHub.

Bolstering the ‘disease detectives’

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Commenting on the launch of the apps, New York governor Andrew Cuomo said he believes they can make a “big difference” in limiting the spread of Covid-19.

“We have about 15,000 people statewide who do contact tracing, they call them disease detectives,” he said. “But we’ve been looking for a technology-based solution.”

NearForm CEO Cian Ó Maidín added: “In using open-source peer-reviewed technology, interoperable with Pennsylvania and Delaware, the states of New York and New Jersey will allow citizens to engage, protect each other and break transmission chains.

“This privacy-preserving approach has already been successfully rolled out across borders in Ireland and parts of the UK.”

Ó Maidín was recently confirmed as a speaker for Future Human 2020, which is set to take place between 29 and 30 October.

Colm Gorey is a senior journalist with Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com