Contact tracing is pretty self-explanatory: it tracks whether you’ve come into contact with anybody carrying the virus and lets you know so you can self-isolate for seven days.
NHS COVID-19 App Explained
How does it do this? The app uses Bluetooth Low Energy to work out when it’s in close proximity to other phones running the app. If somebody comes down with COVID-19, or simply demonstrates symptoms, they can inform the app, which will send an alert to the phones of all the people that person came into contact with over the preceding few days.
You need to have spent at least 15 minutes within two metres of someone suspected of having the virus to receive an alert, so you won’t be pinged every two minutes because you drove past somebody who sneezed twice last Wednesday.
The warnings the app sends out also don’t differentiate between somebody who tests positive for the virus and somebody who had similar symptoms but got given the all clear, so people could end up needlessly self-isolating.
What permissions does the app require?
For the app to work, you’ll be asked to allow Bluetooth and Notifications.
Please note that Bluetooth will only work on Android phones if Location Services are enabled, so you’ll be asked to turn this feature on.
The app does not collect any location data.
What information do I need to provide to use the app?
Once you’ve installed the app, you’ll need to register your phone.
You be asked for the first part of your postcode so the NHS can plan your local NHS response. The app also records your phone’s make and model, which it needs to accurately measure the distance between the phones of people who’ve installed the app.
Unlike most apps, you will not be asked for any other information at this stage (such as name or email). No personal information is collected.
In order for the app to work, all users are assigned a random installation ID by the NHS. The NHS securely stores the first part of your postcode, your installation ID, and your phone make and model. Since no personal information is collected or stored by NHS, it’s not possible to link the installation ID to you as an individual.
As an extra layer of security, the app creates a different daily ID. This keeps your installation ID private from other users you may interact with.
What happens if I report symptoms?
If you report coronavirus symptoms, other users who you’ve been near may receive an alert in their app, telling them that they may have been exposed to coronavirus.
They will not be told who reported symptoms or when the contact occurred. This protects your privacy.
If you want to find out more infomation, you can visit the governments website.