NHS Track and Trace App: How does NHS Track and Trace App Work and NHS Track and Trace App Download
Updated Jun 16, 2020
What is the NHS Track and Trace App?
NHS Track and Trace App is developed to let people know if they have been in close contact with anyone who later reports positive for Covid-19. NHS Track and Trace App could spot exactly who needs to be in quarantine, making it easy to key social distancing measures. The primary purpose of the NHS Track and Trace App is to try and track down people and alert them if they need to self-isolate faster than any other method.
How do the NHS Track and Trace App work?
Users who download the NHS Track and Trace App to their phone can voluntarily opt-in to record details of their symptoms when they're starting to feel sick. The NHS Track and Trace App keeps a trace of others who have been in close contact through Bluetooth signals that convey an anonymous ID. These low energy Bluetooth signals execute a digital "handshake" when two users come into close contact, but keep that data anonymous. If an individual later reports that he/she is positive for coronavirus, NHS Track and Trace App will then send a message to people who have been in close contact with them in the last 28 days according to their anonymous IDs.
The NHS Track and Trace App will alert those people to self-isolate in case they have contracted the disease. Those contacted won't be aware of the identity of the person who may have passed on coronavirus as it is anonymous. Later, if the person takes a test and it turns out to be negative, they may be released from their self-isolation by notification through the NHS Track and Trace App. For trials on the Isle of Wight, the government has said that the people who report their symptoms voluntarily will be brought a testing kit within 24 hours. The data will not be stored for more than 28 days, and the NHSX has said it will be deleted after the app's purpose is finished once the pandemic is over.
When will the NHS Track and Trace App get launched?
Currently, The NHS Track and Trace App is not available widely, but has been launched on May 5th, 2020, in the Isle of Wight. NHSX chief executive Matthew Gould said that the app would be launched after two to three weeks for the rest of the country. The NHS Track and Trace App is expected to be launched to the rest of the UK in the month of June if the test on the Isle of Wight becomes successful, though it has not been ready for the first launch of the UK's Track and Trace programme.
The health secretary, Matthew Hancock, said that people on the Isle of Wight would be given the details on how to download the app from the government. He also said the NHS's slogan would be: "Stay at home, install the app, protect the NHS, and save lives."
NHS Track and Trace App Privacy
Some privacy experts have raised concerns that patient confidentiality risks being compromised. Head of the Computational Privacy Group at Imperial College London, Dr. Yves-Alexandre de Montjoye has warned that such apps could “collect sensitive information like location data”.
“We have to do everything we can to help slow the outbreak. Contact tracing requires handling susceptible data at scale, and solid and proven techniques exist to help us do it while protecting our fundamental right to privacy. We cannot afford not to use them,” he said. Mr. Hancock has pushed back against the privacy concerns, claiming that data would only be held only as long as it was needed and that “all data will be handled according to the highest ethical and security standards.”
“If you become unwell, you can securely tell this new NHS app, and the app will then send an alert anonymously to other app users you’ve been in significant contact with,” the health secretary said.
How can I download the app?
The NHS contact tracing app was initially scheduled to launch in mid-May. However, it has been delayed. At the time the delay was announced, the app was being trialed on the Isle of Wight. No date has been fixed for the release of the app. While the app is still being finalized, the manual contact tracing system has started operating.
The app is not available to download outside the Isle of Wight as a result of the delay. When everyone can use it, it will be downloadable through the Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store.