The NHS (National Health Service) UK has recently revealed that it won’t be using the Apple-Google method for COVID-19 tracking. The NHS officials have said that they aren’t going to use the contact tracing technology that is developed by Apple and Google. They’re also saying that NHS is launching its own app for all the people that are currently living in the UK.
Well, when it comes to COVID-19 tracking apps, all the health agencies across the world are working on it. The idea is to in any way fight against the global Coronavirus pandemic in a technological way. Such an app, if it is successful, can also help in lifting the lockdown in some areas.
How the COVID-19 Tracking app will Work?
The basic principle of how the COVID-19 tracking app will work is very simple. The app will use phones to detect other smartphones in order to form a hierarchy of traceable contacts. If a person is diagnosed with a confirmed case of Coronavirus, all those previous contacts will be alerted. They will be asked either to get themselves into isolation or get tested to know if they the disease.
The NHSX in the UK, that is considered to be a digital arm of the nation health service, will develop this app. They already have been giving some details regarding how the app will work and its ongoing progress. They have supported their decision of not using the Apple-Google method by saying a few words while talking to a person of BBC. It is stated below;
At its core, there’s a fundamental difference in philosophy around how data is processed between the NHS’ solution and that of Apple and Google. While both will use Bluetooth Low Energy to detect the proximity of other phones running the app. The NHS wants to centralise that data, meaning that everything heads into a central location for processing.
Advantages of this Type of Contact Tracing App
Apple and Google is basically using a decentralised solution regarding the contact tracing app. Their method is to handle the proximity processing on the smartphone itself. While the solution provided by the NHS is more towards a centralised type. From the NHS COVID-19 tracking app, the outbreaks across a country can be more easily tracked. The NHS claims this app to be a national response to the virus for any country.
On the contrary, the Apple-Google approach wouldn’t offer this. It would simply keep the data private by only informing the user regarding their contact with a COVID-19 patient. It is worth mentioning that the Apple-Google method also has an advantage. It’s how the devices can be optimised in a better way and reduce battery life drainage. Apart from that, both the companies can easily access device permissions which might not be easily accessible to other developers.
Apart from that the major concern for the NHS tracking app is the restrictions on the iPhone. iPhone basically doesn’t allow third-party access to Bluetooth in the background. This might create a hurdle for the NHS while developing their own COVID-19 tracking app.
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Will this App be really Helpful?
For the app to be successful and to help flatten the COVID-19 curve, it is necessary that at least 60% of the entire population in the UK uses this app. In this way, it can play an important role in easing the lockdown restrictions for the public in the UK.
In the end, what I may say is that this type of app can be really useful for those in the UK to get back to their normal life routine. But for that, the NHS and the UK government will have to convince their public to surely install this app. What will the impact be of this app on the COVID-19 is still unknown.