Archive for Covid-19 Tracker App

Local Difficulties

Posted in Covid-19 with tags , , on August 9, 2020 by telescoper

This morning I checked on the Covid-19 tracker app and found that County Kildare is in second place behind Dublin for cases:

Today’s figure of 68 is down on yesterday’s (174) but still too high.

Anyway a couple of hours later I picked up my phone again and discovered that it was very hot and the battery almost flat. It turns out that a bug has emerged that causes some kind of runaway interaction between the Covid-19 tracker and Google Play Services on Android phones.

I tried some of the fixes suggested on social media but they didn’t work, so I have now uninstalled the app. At a guess I’d say there some upgrade was pushed out to one or other app which has somehow triggered the failure. It’s not good that this has happened in the middle of a spike in cases but hopefully they can fix it soon.

It’s worth noting that although the app has been downloaded over a million times, I’ve never seen more than about 250,000 checked in on any day. There’ll probably be a lot fewer than that now!

Open Contact Tracing

Posted in Covid-19 with tags , , , on July 9, 2020 by telescoper

I was interested to see in the news this week   that Ireland’s Covid-19 contact tracing app has been released and is now available for download. According to the HSE it has been downloaded over a million times in the last few days. I haven’t downloaded it myself (yet) but I probably will.

One of the interesting things about this app is that it cost €850,000 (which is about £760K at today’s exchange rate). The UK’s attempt to produce a similar bit of software has so far cost over £11M for an app that doesn’t exist. It seems a rather similar situation to the £50M paid for ferries that didn’t exist.

“Where has that money gone?”, I hear you ask. The answer is “I don’t know”, but it’s probably been pocketed by friends of Mr Cummings.

But UK residents needn’t fear. Not only is the Irish Covid-19 tracker app free to download and I’m told it also works on the other side of the Irish Sea. Not only that, but  the source code is also freely available on Github.

This app does of course raise genuine concerns about data protection, though perhaps not as great as it would if the data was being handed to friends of Mr Cummings. I was amused yesterday however to see usual conspiracy theorists expressing their fears about what would happen to their data if they downloaded the app on – of all places – Facebook.