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How does the Covid tracker app work? Everything you need to know as thousands sign up

By James Fenton

July 7, 2020 at 9:31am


Last night, the HSE's Covid tracker app went live and within minutes, thousands of people were downloading the service to their phones.

The aim of the Covid contact tracing app is to identify whether a person has been in close contact with someone else who has tested positive for Covid-19. By this morning, over 100,000 people had signed up for the app, which is available for free on the Apple Store as well as Google Play.

While thousands of people have already identified the benefits of using the app, others will be a little more concerned about protecting their privacy and data. You'll find the answers to any questions you might have about the Covid tracker app below...

How does the Covid tracker app work?

The app uses Bluetooth and anonymous IDs to log the following:

  • any phone you are in close contact with that also has the app
  • the distance between your phone and another app users' phone
  • the length of time your phone is near another app users' phone

According to the HSE, 'if you have been closer than two metres for more than 15 minutes with any of these phones you'll get an alert that you are a close contact.'

How will the Covid tracker app affect my privacy?

The HSE says that the app:

  • does not collect your name, age or address
  • does not hold your phone number unless you choose to share it
  • cannot be used to track your location
  • cannot be used to check if you should be self-isolating
  • can only access information on your phone that you choose to allow
  • cannot be used to identify your close contacts
  • cannot be used to identify people who have tested positive for coronavirus

Users will have the option to share the county or town they live in, their age group and their sex.

Why should I use the Covid tracker app?

The HSE advises that the app will:

  • alert you if you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus
  • advise you on what to do to protect yourself and others
  • alert other app users that you were in close contact with, if you test positive for coronavirus

Do I have to download the app?

No. It is up to you whether you decide to use the app or not.

Is there anything else I need to know?

All of the above is explained in more detail here.


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