Spain will start in La Gomera the pilot phase of its contact tracking app, it will use the API of Apple and Google

The Government of Spain has announced the launch of a pilot phase that will allow evaluating the operation of the mobile application for notification of exposure (or contact tracking) that will try to help minimize and control the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic . It has been confirmed that the application will make use of the Apple and Google APIs.

This phase will run in La Gomera from June 29 to July 13, and the objective of this pilot is to evaluate technical aspects and experience of use of the citizen to optimize its design and to calibrate the algorithm used in the application. so that it works optimally and "the truthfulness of the notifications" are guaranteed.

The Spanish contact tracking app takes advantage of the Google and Apple API

The Secretary of State for Digitization and Artificial Intelligence in coordination with the Canary Health Service have launched this preliminary test of the application with which it is hoped to determine if the operation of this contact tracking system through mobile is effective. .

In fact, the Government explains, after the pilot phase "the appropriate decisions may be taken to connect with the health system of the different autonomous communities."

The application has been developed by Indra after a contract was approved at a cost of 330,537 euros. Government officials stressed that both the European Commission and the World Health Organization confirmed the usefulness of these applications "to detect possible outbreaks and thus help break the transmission chain."

Spain will be "the fourth country in the world to launch a pilot with the Google API / API" indicated by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation, but also highlight that this will be the first project that "cares about the user experience" and "the only one that simulates infections", something that according to the Government will allow us to collect better data.

Google and Apple shared images of a prototype (not final) that allowed them to serve as a guide for the development of applications that make use of their notification exposure API.

In the test, they explain from the Government, "its operation will be verified through fictitious identifiers, with positives and negatives generated, so that it can be verified how the notification system works by adjusting its operational threshold to avoid future distortions. real stage. "

The Google and Apple API makes use of a decentralized contact tracking and exposure notification system that, according to these companies, focuses notably on protecting the privacy of users: at no time is the location of users shared, for example, that they have control at all times as to whether or not they want to have that option activated.

The update of these systems that gives the API access to the compatible applications that each country will publish began to arrive weeks ago to the users' mobiles.

Privacy and anonymity guaranteed, full control by users

From the Government they influence how it works: the app uses the Bluetooth connection of the mobile phone, through which the mobile phones emit and observe anonymous identifiers of other phones that change periodically.

If a user ends up being diagnosed positive for COVID-19 after performing a PCR test, they can decide whether to share this information and agree that an anonymous notification can be sent through the health system.

In this way, the mobile phones that have been in contact with the patient would receive a warning about the possible risk of contagion and instructions on how to proceed would be provided.

The development is based on the API of Google and Apple and on the protocol Decentralized Privacy-Preserving Proximity Tracing (DP-3T), which was created with the aim of being totally scrupulous with the user's privacy.

Only encrypted identifiers are sent to a server that acts as a relay relay point so that this information can be received by the rest of the terminals and possible contacts are thus detected. Both data collation and risk analysis are carried out on the user's mobile and not on a centralized server.

The Spanish Data Protection Agency has participated in the development and implementation process of this pilot project and will continue to collaborate in evaluating the results.

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