NHS Scotland has released its Covid-19 contact-tracing app to bolster its response to the pandemic – becoming the second country in the UK to do so.
The Protect Scotland app is designed as an “extra tool” to support the manual contact-tracing already in place under NHS Scotland’s Test and Protect system.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon urged smartphone users to download and use the app to help suppress the virus.
Based on Bluetooth technology, the app anonymously alert users if they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19, and advises them to self-isolate.
Users of the app who test positive will still get a call from a contact-tracer to confirm their details and who they have been in close contact with.
The app, based on Ireland’s Covid Tracker code, does not store details about an individual or their location. Instead it uses encrypted, anonymised codes exchanged between smartphones to determine all close contacts.
Sturgeon said: “This will support the work of NHS Scotland and has the potential to help avoid local lockdowns.
“The more people who download and use the app, the more effective it can be in helping to make connections that may otherwise have been missed. This will allow people to self-isolate quickly if they are exposed to the virus, reducing the risk of them infecting others.
“We all have a part to play in suppressing the virus, and downloading the app – alongside other vital measures such as following hygiene and physical distancing guidance – will help protect you, your family and your community.”
The app was designed by software developers NearForm using the same technology as the Republic of Ireland and Northern Irish proximity tracing apps.
The code for Ireland’s Covid Tracker app was made public in July as part of an open source programme to help global public health authorities tackle the pandemic.
The code has been used to develop apps in Gibraltar and Northern Ireland, as well as other countries in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and states in the US.
Shortly after the code was published Northern Ireland released its contact-tracing app to become the first country in the UK roll-out the technology.
The app, StopCOVID NI, was also developed by NearForm alongside Northern Ireland Department of Health, design consultants Big Motive, and quality services consultancy Expleo.
Speaking on the launch of the Scottish app Cian Ó Maidín, chief executive of NearForm, said: “This open source technology was built with privacy and data protection at its core and, through anonymous keys, allows Scottish citizens to engage, protect each other and break transmission chains.
“The Scottish Government has taken a great approach, using open source software, that has been peer reviewed and rolled out successfully in Ireland and Northern Ireland.”
England’s contact-tracing app
The NHS Covid-19 contact-tracing app is set to launch across England and Wales on 24 September.
It uses Bluetooth technology to track time and distance between smartphone devices. It also offers a QR code check-in capability, allows users to book a free test and has an isolation countdown timer to remind people to quarantine.
NHSX announced in March that it was working on a contact-tracing app to help control the spread of the virus.
The organisation faced fierce criticism for its decision to develop a centralised system, differing from tech giants Apple and Google who teamed up to developed decentralised contact-tracing technology.
Despite privacy concerns NHSX launched a trial of its contact-tracing app on the Isle of Wight in the first week of May, with a national roll-out date expected by mid-May.
In June, after several revised roll-out dates, the government abandoned its model in favour of Apple and Google’s tech. At the time it had spent £11.8m developing the app.
A trial of a new app, based on Apple and Google’s technology, was launched on 13 August.
You can read more about the NHS contact-tracing app timeline here.
10 October 2020 @ 11:59
Back from Turkey and arrived in Newcastle. Live in English side of Scottish border but still being tracked by Scottish NHS. Why?? Work in England too. Now in isolation.
5 October 2020 @ 14:13
Does the English app work in Scotland ??
24 September 2020 @ 13:19
Just arrived back from Tenerife.Felt very safe over there,as was very quiet , will abide by the rules as did over there & do the same in Glasgow
23 September 2020 @ 10:24
Can we assume the English and Scottish apps interoperate correctly? Or, is this another example of nationalism getting in the way of progress?
25 September 2020 @ 16:35
of course they dont…wee nippy in her rush to beat Boris and claim the headline didnt think about the fact that thousands of Scots travel into england to work every day and vice versa.
26 September 2020 @ 20:10
Well that’s no good at all then. Or perhaps that’s the point – while our border with England is porous there’s a problem, I wonder how to fix that?
3 October 2020 @ 11:10
According to this site, Northern Ireland launched the app first then the Scottish Government while Westminster was wasting or giving to its friends 11.8 million on an abandoned app. Perhaps you are the nippy one.
4 October 2020 @ 09:50
Independence❣️Is the best option
Brake the Union After all it doesn’t exist♥️🏴🥰💪🏻
2 October 2020 @ 06:39
I had both apps installed as I was visiting Scotland.
The English/Welsh app is now effectively disabled as they are both using the same google/apple technology and only one app is allowed to use the core service.
22 September 2020 @ 20:16
A joke I cannot download this on my phone 😡😡
24 September 2020 @ 10:11
Keep me up to date with the covid pandemic
20 September 2020 @ 12:12
Doesn’t work with iPhone 6. I am not buying a new phone for this to work!!!!
20 September 2020 @ 09:36
I do not have a code/password to enable me to activate my track and trace app for Scotland
17 September 2020 @ 14:18
can you not download to computers or is it just phones , as i do not have a mobile phone
15 September 2020 @ 12:34
It would have been sensible to have an app that works on all smartphones
My wife and myself have iPhone 6 which don’t allow download of this app
15 September 2020 @ 12:57
Totally agree John.Not everyone has the latest iPhone.Surely the app can be made to work with earlier phones ie. iOS 12 onwards.
23 September 2020 @ 12:10
i think the idea is to download the app on mobile phones since most people never leave the house without them.
26 September 2020 @ 16:55
Yep, crazy. My mum has an iPhone 6 and can’t use this app