Explained: How the new Covid-19 tracker app works

Explained: How the new Covid-19 tracker app works
A mobile phone showing the Covid 19 tracker app which has been released today. The tracing app has been launched by the Department of Health and HSE Photo: Leah Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

The new Covid-19 Tracker App is a voluntary opt-in application intended to help contact tracing that can be downloaded for free on Apple and Android app stores or at covidtracker.gov.ie.

It uses Bluetooth technology to determine whether you’ve been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus and Bluetooth must be turned on in order for it to work. The app does not require your phone to have internet connection.

The app cannot tell you if you have Covid-19, but it should be able to tell you if you’ve been in contact with someone who has since been diagnosed with the virus and if you do test positive for Covid-19, your close contacts have been recorded and are easily contactable through the app.

The app defines a close contact as anyone within two metres for 15 minutes or more.

It has a symptom tracking system where you can input whether you have any Covid-19 symptoms or not which then allows the HSE to collect and develop further data on the virus. This aspect of the app is optional.

When downloaded, the app will ask for permission to collect and share anonymous data in order to facilitate contact tracing. It will also ask for your phone number but you can choose not to give it.

Because the app works on a decentralised model which is different to a geolocation, it does not track where you go and instead identifies when people become close contacts through Bluetooth connection.

The app is currently available in English and Irish and has been adapted to make it as accessible as possible with input from organisations such as the National Council of the Blind.

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