Track And Trace


From top Daragh O’Brien of technology and data governance firm Castlebridge; Covid-19 tracing app in Singapore


Susan Mitchell and Aaron Rogan, in The Business Post, reported that members of the public will be asked to “opt into” a mobile phone tracking and tracing app by the HSE as part of its strategy against Covid-19.

The HSE has already been in contact with the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner about the app.

They reported:

The track and trace technology that the HSE plans to introduce will be facilitated by an opt-in mobile phone app that will allow people to be notified if they were in close proximity to confirmed cases.

Similar apps have been used in Singapore and South Korea, which have been held up as exemplars of how to successfully battle the coronavirus pandemic.

The apps help with contact tracing, which is the process of identifying those who have had close contact with infected individuals. Without technology, these efforts rely on the recall and memory of infected individuals.

Under plans being advanced by the HSE, phones with the app installed would exchange short-distance Bluetooth signals where users are near each other. Records of those encounters are then stored.

A senior health service source said the app would be free to use, and would operate on an “opt-in” basis. If a user is found to have the coronavirus, the app would allow the health service to notify other users of the app who have been in close contact with that individual by telephone.

…Castlebridge, a technology and data governance firm, has conducted research into the Singapore app in recent weeks.

Daragh O’Brien, managing director of the firm, said that there was merit to that model for Ireland which, he said did not record location data but instead used “Bluetooth signal strength to infer the distance between the two devices and how long the two devices are in close proximity to each other”.



Phone tracking app set to be used as next step to fight Covid-19 (Business Post)

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6 thoughts on “Track And Trace

  1. Truth in the News

    The best this could achieve is the area of phone call mast coverage area and in some
    instances the sectoral coverage sections if specific antenna coverage is used , is not a
    precise location that applies to GPS, they only way that precise location and movement
    that can achieve this, is a GPS enabled phone to transmit back its position continuously
    through its cell network, as to Bluetooth, the range of the devices is quite limited,

    1. SB

      It uses the Bluetooth to determine who has been near who, for contact tracing purposes. As far as I can see, the purpose is not to see where the populace CURRENTLY is. If someone is diagnosed with Covid-19, their app will have a record of everyone else (with the app) that they interacted with.
      Not sure I’d go for it myself, though, due to privacy concerns.

      1. Cian

        It could be done as follows:
        1. I have the app, and it constantly uses Bluetooth to look for other users running the app.
        2. any time if finds another user then both apps record the other user (as an anonimised userID).
        3. my phone then builds a list of other users (with a date – not exact time – possibly include duration) that I’ve ‘seen’. This could distinguish between a single contact (people passing on the street) versus a recurring contact (people walking together/queueing/sitting on a bus) versus a consistent contact (e.g. partner)
        4. if I am tested positive, I tell my app to release my list of userID/dates.
        5. The central App can then contacts all those people (from a specific date onwards) and let them know that “someday you [crossed paths with/were adjacent for 20 minutes/live with] to on 3-April has been tested positive for COVID19”.
        6. The whole thing can be anonymous. All that the central register needs is unique identifier for each app per phone.

        In this way it (a) only records people with the app near me (not my actual location) (b) I choose to release the data if I’m tested positive.

        As it only connects with Bluetooth +10m you are see people near you – it’ll pick up your next-door neighbour – even if you never see them.

  2. george

    Maybe instead they should put some IT resources into allowing nurses to register online instead of with a paper form.

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