Delaware launches Covid app based on Irish developer Nearform’s technology

More US states are set to follow in the near future

Photograph: iStock

Photograph: iStock

 

Irish software developer Nearform has launched a new contact tracing app in the US, bringing the technology used in the HSE’s contact tracing app to Delaware.

NearForm’s technology is now being used in apps in Ireland, Northern Ireland, Gibraltar and Scotland, and will launch with more US states in the coming weeks and months.

The Delaware app, Covid Alert DE, was created in partnership with local health authorities there. It is interoperable with other states’ Apple and Google-based contact tracing apps, allowing for exposure notifications across state lines.

The app works by using the bluetooth signal on your phone to exchange a digital “handshake” with another device also running a compatible app when a user is within six feet of another for 15 minutes or more.

The anonymous keys are stored in a log on the phone, which the local health authorities may ask users to upload if they receive a positive diagnosis for Covid-19. That log can then be used to track unnamed contacts, with an alert delivered to affected people through the app.

Google and Apple worked on technology to allow their devices to exchange information, using a system called exposure notification services.

In the US, Virginia was the first state to launch a contact tracing app using the Google and Apple system, although it does not use Nearform’s Covid Green code. The Association of Public Health Laboratories is also supporting a National Key Server, which will allow cross-border contact tracing.

“The Covid Alert DE Mobile App puts power in citizens’ hands to protect each other in the fight against Covid-19,” said Cian O’Maidin, chief executive of NearForm.

“The open source technology was built with privacy and data protection at its core. The app exchanges regularly-changing anonymous Bluetooth ID, to break transmission chains. The State of Delaware has taken a great approach, using technology that has been peer reviewed and rolled out successfully in Ireland and parts of the UK.”

The free mobile app is available to anyone 18 or older who lives, works, or attends college in Delaware.

“This app is an important tool to help Delawareans understand the risks of Covid-19, and to help fight community spread of this virus,” said Delware governor John Carney.

“Knowing you’ve had a potential exposure and taking the basic precautions is the best way to protect your most vulnerable family members, friends, and neighbours who are at risk of serious illness. I would encourage all Delawareans to download this app and help in our fight against Covid-19.”