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Corona virus contact tracing apps flop in France and Australia


Corona virus contact tracking apps aren't everything that matters, and those used in France and Australia have failed, experts warn.

In France, two million people have downloaded the StopCovid app, but only 14 people have received notifications that they were at risk in three weeks after using the app.

Australia had the same problem: six million people downloaded COVIDSafe, but no useful information was released in Victoria, a state that is currently experiencing a new outbreak, that the authorities couldn't already get from human contact trackers.

The smartphone apps are designed to track who has been in contact with if one of them is infected with the virus.

In the UK, an app was hailed for months as crucial to eradicating the corona virus in the population, but it quickly became clear that the plan would not work if officials realized that their app was not working on iPhones.

Now the major teething troubles in other countries are suggesting that a successful app may be further away than expected.

Software developers were so careful to scare people and send too many notifications that they went too far the other way, scientists say.

People have complained that the apps, which rely on Bluetooth connections between people's smartphones, are draining their batteries.

As a result, many are now uninstalling the apps because they cause more problems than solutions, MIT Technology Review reported.

The French StopCovid app has been reported to have been downloaded two million times – about three percent of the country's population – but only alerted 14 people to coronavirus risk in the first three weeks of operation

The Australian CovidSafe app was downloaded by around a quarter of the population there, but was not at all useful for the authorities in Victoria, whose human contact tracers, according to Gizmodo, produced the same amount of information

The Australian CovidSafe app was downloaded by around a quarter of the population there, but was not at all useful for the authorities in Victoria, whose human contact tracers, according to Gizmodo, produced the same amount of information

The reason for the disappointing number of people who are warned about possible infection from the app may be that not enough users are using it and there are still not many close contacts.

One expert said that if the case numbers are low and people follow rules and social distance, there shouldn't be many notifications at all.

"It's simple math," Professor Jon Crowcroft of Cambridge University told MIT Technology Review.

& # 39; If one percent of people have Covid-19 and everyone is tested and only 1 percent of people run the app, you have a one in 10,000 chance that both the tested person and the exposed person have the app.

"So your notification rate is 10,000 times lower than the fall rate."

The acceptance of the apps seems to be higher than Professor Crowcroft suggests – according to Gizmodo around 25 percent in Australia and three percent in France.

Another reason why the apps don't notify people could be that developers have programmed them to be careful.

A large number of warnings triggered every day can cause mass panic. As a result, apps have been reported to be programmed to select only the contacts with the highest risk.

One of the biggest problems with the apps, however, is the fact that the Bluetooth that they are completely dependent on just doesn't work as it should.

Health officials around the world had hoped that people could simply download the app and do all the work in the background effortlessly by automatically connecting to someone's phone within two meters and logging it.

Officials in the UK gave up the NHS 'attempt to create their own app in June when they found it was not working on iPhones (Image: the app is in the development phase).

Officials in the UK gave up the NHS 'attempt to create their own app in June when they found it was not working on iPhones (Image: the app is in the development phase).

WHAT HAPPENED WITH THE NHS CONTACT TRACING APP?

On June 18, officials admitted that the NHS app, once praised by the Secretary of Health as important for lifting the block and described by Boris Johnson as a key part of the UK test and trace system, does not work on Apple iPhones.

The digital healthcare branch, NHSX, has now given up plans to build its own app and will work with Apple and Google to improve existing technology.

Mr. Hancock could not say when a tracking app would be ready if it is said to be launched in winter.

The app, originally promised for mid-May and taking months to develop, failed to recognize 25 percent of nearby Android users and astounding 96 percent of iPhones in the Isle of Wight trial.

In the meantime, Apple and Google technology can see 99 percent of the close contacts with every smartphone – but they can't tell how far away they are, officials said today.

Those responsible for the British test and trace system said neither of the two apps was useful, and Mr. Hancock seemed to be pointing a finger at Apple to fix the bug. He said, "Our app won't work because Apple won't change its system."

Apple and Google announced on April 10 that they would join forces to develop the technology. By then the NHS had already started its work. All parties put their software into operation about a month later, in mid-May.

NHS developers, along with technology giants, will now try to merge the detection software and distance measurement capabilities of the NHS app – which they thought was significantly better – to create a hybrid app that actually works.

Here's how the NHS contact tracking app fell apart:

  • When used on iPhones, the NHS app went into background mode and stopped recording nearby phones.
  • As a result, only four percent of the possible contacts for Apple phone users could be recognized. In contrast, 75 percent were found for Android phone users.
  • The technology developed by Apple and Google was able to recognize 99 percent of the nearby phones, but did not say how close they were, according to official figures.
  • Health chiefs said Apple / Google technology could not distinguish someone who is 3 m (9 & # 39; 8 & # 39;) away and who has his phone in hand from someone who is 1 m (3 & # 39; 3 & # 39;) is removed and the phone is in your pocket.
  • Officials now want to bring the two together to enable the Apple / Google detection function with the far better distance calculation of the NHSX app.

In reality, Bluetooth connections seem to break when someone locks their phone and the app takes a back seat.

Google and Apple, who have developed their own app systems, have limits on how much Bluetooth activity can continue if someone doesn't use an app.

France and Australia have both tried to develop their own software and appear to have been affected by the same problem that Britain faced. Trials have shown that the app could only recognize four percent of the connections when it was running on an iPhone.

The Australian version has a higher success rate, but only successfully makes around 25 percent of the connections, The Guardian reported.

An anonymous researcher told MITTR: “In order for a contact tracking app to work without using its system, a user has to walk around like a Pokemon Go player, his phone is turned off, the app is open and he is not allowed to use his phone or anything else. & # 39;

Software developed by Apple and Google today forms the basis for the apps of many countries around the world.

UK officials who gave up their own attempt to build an app last month said the app created by Apple and Google wasn't good enough to use either.

Health Minister Matt Hancock and NHS Test and Trace chief Dido Harding admitted on June 18 that they were scrapping plans for an app created by the NHS.

Health chiefs said the app, originally promised for mid-May and developed for months by the NHS, doesn't recognize 25 percent of nearby Android users and astounding 96 percent of iPhones in a trial on the Isle of Wight could.

In the meantime, Apple and Google technology could see 99 percent of the close contacts with any type of smartphone – but they were currently unable to tell how far away they were, officials claimed.

Health chiefs said Apple / Google technology could not differentiate someone who is 3 m (9 & # 39; 8 & # 39;) away and who has his phone in hand from someone who is 1 m (3 & # 39; 3 & # 39;) is removed and the phone is in his pocket.

Those responsible for the British test and trace system said neither of the two apps was useful, and Mr. Hancock seemed to be pointing a finger at Apple to fix the bug. He said, "Our app won't work because Apple won't change its system."

Developers in the NHS should now work with the technology giants to combine their detection software and the range-finding ability of the NHS app – which they thought was much better – to create a hybrid app that actually works.

British officials have refused to set a timescale when the British app could be ready – a politician has suggested that it will be winter at the earliest.

But they insist that it is still "urgent and important" and will be able to do jobs that human employees cannot.

Simon Thompson, executive director of the NHS Covid-19 app, said to a House of Lords committee on Monday: "I think if we look at the particular benefits the app can bring to the program, there are three areas we can address to have." I really focused on that.

& # 39; One is speed, the ability to communicate with the user in minutes.

& # 39; The second is precision, that is, the ability to trust distance and time. We think it has to be a really good standard, but we believe it will definitely be better than a human could do.

"And in terms of reach – the ability to know people you met and didn't know you met – we believe the app can make real progress there."

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