AFP has this interesting assessment of the success of various coronavirus tracing applications in Europe – or otherwise -:
Germany: There is no cure
According to official spokesman Stephen Sebert, the German track and trace application, launched in June, has been described as “an important additional tool to reduce the rate of infection” but “there is no cure”.
In a country whose population is extremely careful about protecting and controlling their personal data, the app is generally well-received, even for strict privacy, such as the Kayes Computer Club.
As of September 1, the application had been downloaded 17.7 m times, compared to a population of about 6 million – and in early July it alerted several hundred cases of infection.
Iceland: Keeping an eye on tourists
It peaked shortly after Iceland’s app downloads began – approximately 40% of the population, with a high user base – but rose again as the tourist season began.
Visitors to Volcano Island are encouraged to download the app, not only because of its good functionality, but also because it contains links to important Covid-19-related documents and even has an online chat function.
Unlike other tracing apps used in Europe, the Icelandic app can track a person’s movements in case of infection or suspected infection. And, with the person’s permission, the phone uses GPS to geo-detect.
Portugal: Compatibility issues
Portugal has just launched its tracing application this month and it has come under the purview of consumer rights groups for its influential role in drawing up flaws in the use of personal information and health protocols.
Also, media reports suggest that about 800,000 mobile phones – out of a population of 10 million in total – could not install the app due to incomplete software, eventually making it useless.
France: A flop
The French government launched the Stopcovid application in early June, but by mid-August it had only been downloaded 2.3 million times, with a total population of 67 million. So far only 72 potentially risky communication applications have been identified, and 1,169 users have declared them positive.
Stopcovid has been criticized by IT experts for information privacy.
Based on the so-called “centralized” protocol, the French application is not incompatible with most European counterparts that are “decentralized”.
Under the centralized model, the anonymous data collected is uploaded to a remote server where matches with other contacts are made, if a person begins to develop Covid-19 symptoms.
Leaving the decentralized model on the phone gives users more control over their information. That’s where matches are played with people who may be infected with the virus. This is the model promoted by Google, Apple and an international company.
Favorable signs for Switzerland and Italy
Based on a decentralized protocol developed by Lawson EPFL University, Swisscovid began testing from 25 May.
About 1.6 million people actively use the app, which has been downloaded 2.3 million times out of a population of 6.5 million.
As of early September, the app was indicating an average of 56 infections per day and this seems to be generally accepted by the public.
The Immuni app has been downloaded 5.4m times in Italy, equivalent to 14% of the total number of potential users (excluding anyone under 14 and those without a mobile phone). According to official data, between June 1 and August 31, 155 users declared themselves positive.
Moist squibs from Norway and Britain
In June, Norwegian health authorities suspended the locally developed app, which the Nordic country’s national data protection agency found to be too intrusive.
Authorities are working on a solution that they hope will be launched before Christmas and will not rely on Google and Apple technology.
In the UK, the government announced the first attempt at a communication-tracing app in May, but in a major U-turn in June, it abandoned the app based on the centralized model and was seen as flawed.
The government, which has blamed Apple for the problems, has since reverted to a decentralized approach. However, still, no track and trace app is widely available in most parts of the UK.
Northern Ireland, however, rolled out its own app at the end of July and downloaded more than 300,000 times by August 2nd.
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