Britain is finalizing steps to launch a latest mobile phone application from the National Health Service (NHS) that would alert users if they have been in near contact to anyone with coronavirus symptoms recently.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that the government’s department was partnering with leading technology firms to check the app in the months ahead of its launch, a move seen as part of preparations that will eventually ease the tight lockdown initiatives that began their fourth week in the nation on Monday.
“If you’re feeling ill with coronavirus symptoms, you can easily notify your latest NHS app and the app can then send an anonymous alert to other device users who you’ve been insignificant touch with in the past few days, even before you’ve got symptoms, and they know and can respond appropriately,” Hancock said in response to the new application.
“All data must be treated in compliance with the highest ethical and security standards, which can only be used for NHS care and research, so we do not keep it for longer than required. As part of our dedication to transparency, we will always disclose the source code,” he added.
The minister also revealed that the application is in its testing phase, along with digital security and ethics experts. NHSX, the digital innovation arm of the UK health service, is expected to check
a pre-release prototype of the app next week with people at a safe location in northern England.
Tech giants Apple and Google revealed on Friday that they were collaborating on a software building block, defined as an API, to make touch tracing applications simpler for others to build. NHSX aims to turn the technology into a product of its own.
NHSX believes that more than half of the population going outside requires using it for automated contact tracking to be successful.