the Spanish application for the monitoring of the coronavirus will arrive in September throughout the country



Updated:03/08/2020 17:03h


The Government hopes that the coronavirus contagion tracking application in Spain, known as Radar Covid, will be available throughout the national territory next September. This has been confirmed by the Secretary of State for Digitization, Carme Artigas, in a press conference which was also attended by the general director of Public Health of the Ministry of Health, Pilar Aparicio; and the general director of Modernization of the Canary Islands Government, Pablo Hernández.

“We hope the app will be available nationwide on September 15. However, we are still working on it », explained the Secretary of State for digitization. She also pointed out that, from August 10, it is expected that the “app” will begin to work in the testing phase in two or three autonomous communities. In this regard, Artigas has recognized that two of them could be the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands due to their link with tourism, although for a few days the final decision will not be made. Likewise, work is underway to develop an English version of the app that will make it easier for international visitors to use it.

During the appearance, the Secretary of State for digitization has also shared the pilot conclusions elaborated from the «app», which took place in La Gomera during the month of July. The government has described the test as “highly satisfactory”. So far, the application has 100,000 downloads nationwide; although only about 3,200 users in La Gomera have verified its effectiveness as the test is limited to that territory.

Artigas also maintains that the tool has been shown to be more effective than human tracers; since it has been able to detect 6.5 close contacts per device. A figure that practically doubles the 3 to 4 that are capable of registering the seconds on the island of La Gomera.

«We are convinced that (Radar Covid) can help in the context of reappearance of outbreaks of contagion. The “app” sees more than us, because we only remember known contacts and the ‘app’ also unknown. It is faster and has more memory, it registers more contacts than us. It is anonymous and much less intrusive than receiving someone’s call to reconstruct what you have done in the last fifteen days. Our assessment is more than positive. It has shown reliability and precision to record close contacts, “said the Secretary of State.

According to the Government, many autonomous communities have already shown their interest in launching the application. As in the case of La Gomera, each of the autonomous governments will have to provide an alphanumeric code to the participants that, after entering it on their device, will allow others to be notified of a Covid-19 infection.

This has been the pilot of La Gomera

The La Gomera rider started last June 29 and has run until July 31, time during which four waves of fictitious sprouts of Covid-19 have been simulated. The first objective of the pilot was to precisely assess the adoption of the tool, that is, the number of people who would download it, and a target of 3,000 participants was set. A goal that has been exceeded according to the data obtained during the test.

A second objective was to measure retention, referring to the number of users who kept the «app» active after downloading it. The results, also satisfactory, point to an 83% average retention achieved. In addition, the commitment of the users in the communication of fictitious positives was analyzed, achieving 61% of active communications, of which 78% occurred within 24 hours after receiving the simulated contagion code.

Another of the objectives outlined in the pilot, as we explained, was to measure the operation of the «app» in contact tracking, achieving an average of 6.4 close risk contacts detected by confirmed simulated positive. This figure represents almost double the current efficiency of manual tracers, which in the Canary Islands detect an average of 3.5 contacts.

Once the pilot was completed, the authorities have evaluated the initiative and have ensured that the monitoring tool is ready to be able to scale it to the rest of the territories, which must decide whether to implement it in their measures against the disease. According to the study, the majority of respondents have stated that they will continue to use the app when it is active nationwide, and almost all (82%) value it as a useful tool in the prevention of infections by Covid-19.

It works on the two most widespread mobile operating systems, Android and iOS. Already evaluated by Google and Apple, it has been published in their respective stores. The first to receive it has been Android. During the tests carried out, ABC was able to verify that the system encourages the user to activate Bluetooth. The terminal needs to have this wireless technology activated, used to connect compatible devices, to “safely collect and share” the random ID or identification code with other nearby telephones.

How does it work

Covid Radar can alert the user if they have been around someone who has indicated that they have coronavirus symptoms. The tool warns that the date, duration and signal intensity associated with the exposures are shared with the «app». If it is allowed to always be active in the background, the battery life may be reduced.

The application reports the level of exposure to which the user has been subjected. When ABC tested it, the service noted, “Your exposure is low.” Still, the system itself recommends users to follow a series of guidelines, such as maintaining the stipulated safety distance of 1.5 meters, “always” wearing a surgical mask or washing their hands frequently. Other measures include covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze, or using disposable tissues.

From the “Send anonymous diagnosis” tab, the user can enter the code for the Covid-19 test, the PCR test carried out by the medical authorities that they must send to patients infected with the disease. This matter is key since, in this way, users who are approaching in a close range can be notified that they have been in the presence of an infected person.

The Government promises, and this is highlighted in the terms of use of the application, that no personal data such as name, address, age, telephone number or email is collected. Geolocation information is also not collected. “We cannot determine your identity or know the people you have been with,” they assure from the ministry. In fact, the data is saved on the device itself and the connection to the server is encrypted. In addition, Radar Covid includes several contact methods (phone, email) to report incidents.

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