Friday 10 July 2020

Developers to start testing Dutch Covid-19 tracing app in June

Seven apps are being tested. Photo: Depositphotos.com

Initial testing will start on the app which the Dutch government hopes will improve the tracing of coronavirus infections in the first half of June, the head of the health ministry’s information policy unit has told journalists.

‘We are going to look what happens if we put all sorts of different makes of phone together,’ Ron Roozendaal is quoted as saying. ‘What happens if there is a wall between them and how is the security organised?’ If this goes well, regional testing involving epidemiologists will begin in the second half of the month, the NRC reported.

The first source code for the app went online on Friday.

Asked when the app might be ready to go into use, Roozendaal said he could imagine this would be at the end of the summer. However, many issues still have to be solved and nothing is certain, he said.

Health minister Hugo de Jonge commissioned the  app to trace the spread of coronavirus in the wake of flopped efforts to fast-track the process in a weekend event in mid April.

Transmission masts

Meanwhile, the economic affairs ministry has said it plans to introduce emergency legislation requiring telecommunications companies to give transmission mast data to the public health institute RIVM.

The law would be in force for up to one year, and it has already been given the green light by the country’s privacy watchdog, the ministry statement said.

The system would work by allowing the RIVM to use the transmission mast data to act more quickly in the event of an increase in the number of infections in an area, by warning the regional health board.

If, for example, transmission mast data shows that on a Saturday afternoon, a lot of people from Rijswijk visited Delft and a lot of new infections are found in one of the locations, this could mean there are a lot of infections in the other, the ministry said.

The data would be stripped of all personal information (such as telephone number) and could not be used to identify individuals, the ministry said.

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