The Northern Ireland Coronavirus Tracker and Trace app has been released for download on Apple’s App Store and Google Play.
Named StopCOVID NI, it has several features to record details of those showing symptoms of the virus.
It will complement the telephone contact tracing program already in place and identify those at risk of infection.
Northern Ireland is the first part of UK to have a contact tracing app.
StopCovidNI will officially launch on Friday but became available for download on Thursday afternoon.
Within an hour of its release, hundreds of people had installed it on their cell phones.
How it works?
After a positive Covid-19 test result, a person will receive a unique code via text message.
This message will prompt the person to enter the code if they are using the app.
Entering the code will trigger a “Bluetooth handshake,” allowing the app to alert any other user who has been nearby long enough to be at risk of infection.
“Some people won’t be able or want to use the app, and that’s okay,” said Dan West, head of digital information at the Department of Health.
“The more people who use it, the more protection it will offer to the whole community. We can say that for sure. ”
The app will initially be aimed at those over 18, due to a conflict between data protection laws and the need for identifiable backup consent.
Dr Eddie O’Neill of the Board of Health and Welfare meets with the Children’s Commissioner, the Information Commissioner’s office and the Children’s Law Center to find a solution.
Will it be compatible with the application of the Republic?
Health Minister Robin Swann has previously said his ministry is working with his counterpart in the Republic of Ireland.
The ambition was to make the two systems work in tandem, so that information about contacts that need to be traced can be shared by both governments.
Both apps were designed by the same company, Nearform.
The contact tracing program has been operational in Northern Ireland since mid-May.
- The great mystery of coronavirus tracking apps
This means that people with a positive test result are contacted by phone.
People in whom they have been within 2 meters for 15 minutes or more are called and advised to self-isolate or be tested if they have symptoms.
The app complements this, to aid in contact tracing and alerting those who may not be easily contacted.