In a major reversal, the United Kingdom abandons the operation of its current application for tracing the coronavirus and pass it to a model based on technology provided by Apple and Google.
The Apple-Google has been promoted as being more focused on privacy.
However, this means that the epidemiologists will have access to less data.
The government now intends to launch an application in the fall, but it indicates that the product may not imply the search for contacts at this stage.
Instead, the software may be limited to allow for users to report their symptoms and ordered a test.
Baroness Dido Harding – who runs the broader programme of testing and tracing – will not give the green light to the effective deployment of the technology Apple-Google that, if it decides that it has been adapted to the intended use, which is not currently the case.
Germany, Italy and Denmark are other countries that have moved from an approach known as “centralized” approach to a “decentralized”.
The NHS has tested two systems one against the other, in the course of the last month.
The version centralized tested on the isle of Wight has worked well to evaluate the distance between two users, but was not able to recognize the iPhones of Apple.
More specifically, the software has recorded about 75% of the combined Android nearby, but only 4% of iPhones.
In contrast, the model Apple-Google had iPhones, but his calculations of distance were lower. In some cases, it has not been able to make the difference between a phone in the pocket of the user m to 1 m (3.3 feet), and a phone in the hand of a user to 3 metres (9.8 feet).
Experiences in Ireland have reported a similar problem.
This decision comes the day after the revelation by the BBC that a former executive of Apple, Simon Thompson, took over the project in late.
The research applications of the contacts are designed to help prevent a second wave of sars coronavirus.
They work by logging in when two people were in close proximity to one another for a substantial period of time.
If a user is diagnosed later as suffering from the disease, an alert can be sent to other people with whom he has recently been close to, telling them that they must also be tested and / or self-isolate.
The previous design is “centralized” in the United Kingdom was the correspondence contact on a remote server.
The model Apple-Google is running the process on the handsets themselves, which makes it more difficult for the authorities or potential pirates to anonymize records and to use for other purposes.
One of the advantages of switch is that the application NHS Covid-19 may overcome a limitation of the iPhones, and perform “handshakes” Bluetooth when the software runs in the background.
Another is that it should be easier to make the application compatible with the counterparts of other countries, which are based on the same system – including the Republic of Ireland and Germany.
Earlier in the week, the european Commission said that France, which had adopted a centralized application – would face challenges in this regard.
“This is a welcome initiative, if it is delayed so heavy and useless,” commented Dr. Michael Veale of the group DP3T, which promotes the decentralized model.
“The Google-Apple is somehow the country’s own: born of research in a large consortium of universities led by the Swiss and in which the UCL in the United Kingdom.
“The United Kingdom has no end of options and no reasonable excuse to not get out of the app quickly now. “
He added that developers should be able to adapt the code already used by Germany and Switzerland if required.
The government had previously announced its intention to deploy the application in all of England.
But because health is a problem of decentralized, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have yet to engage in this initiative.
“We will continue to work with the british government to collect the information we need on the integration of data, technical information, and the overall delays before making any decision about the support or not of its use,” said a spokesman for the scottish government to the BBC.