NHS Scotland’s new coronavirus contact tracing app is now available
Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon is encouraging smartphone users to install NHS Scotland’s new contact tracing app to help the fight against coronavirus.
Protect Scotland is now available as a free download for Apple and Google devices. Backed by a dedicated website, the app is an additional tool to support existing contact tracing methods.
To protect privacy, the app uses Bluetooth to alert users if they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus and needs to self-isolate. Users who test positive will still be called by a contact tracer to confirm their details and those they have been in contact with.
No personal or location details are used, instead the app relies on encrypted, anonymous codes exchanged between smartphones.
The app is developed by NearForm on behalf of NHS Scotland and is similar to apps used in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Sign up is voluntary.
Ms Sturgeon said: “The launch of the app is a welcome development which will offer an additional level of protection – supporting NHS Scotland’s Test and Protect system as it works to drive down the spread of Covid-19 across the country.
“I would encourage everyone to download the free app if they have a compatible smartphone, and help slow the spread of Covid-19. This will support the work of NHS Scotland and has the potential to help avoid local lockdowns.
“The more people who download and use the app, the more effective it can be in helping to make connections that may otherwise have been missed. This will allow people to self-isolate quickly if they are exposed to the virus, reducing the risk of them infecting others.
“We all have a part to play in suppressing the virus, and downloading the app – alongside other vital measures such as following hygiene and physical distancing guidance – will help protect you, your family and your community.
“We also know that not everyone uses a smartphone or will be able to or want to access the app, which is why this software is very much there to complement existing contact tracing methods.”
Cian Ó Maidín, CEO of NearForm, added: “We’re delighted to partner with NHS Scotland on the Protect Scotland app which puts power in citizens’ pockets to join the fight against Covid-19.
“This open source technology was built with privacy and data protection at its core and, through anonymous keys, allows Scottish citizens to engage, protect each other and break transmission chains.
“The Scottish Government has taken a great approach, using open source software, that has been peer reviewed and rolled out successfully in Ireland and Northern Ireland.”