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The cell phone tracing tool will be rolled out nationwide four months later than planned


Which iPhones CANNOT use the NHS Covid app?

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The new NHS Covid app may falsely instruct up to a third of its users to self-isolate after mistakenly assuming they've got close to an infected person – while millions of Britons with an iPhone 6 or 6 don't access it can get older.

The risk of false positives arises from the app's dependence on Bluetooth signals, which can be influenced by objects in the vicinity.

This means that the app can judge that the user has been within two meters of an infected person for more than 15 minutes when they have actually only been near a bluetooth emitting object.

This problem increases the risk that users will delete the app because they think it is not working properly or simply decide not to download it.

Those who get false positives can also try to get access to testing centers, which puts more pressure on the already ailing service, or they could ignore direction and risk £ 10,000 if they don't self-isolate – despite the fact that they do Not actually having disease.

According to official sources, the app's accuracy is on par with other countries and hopes for the contact tracking feature have been downplayed. They said its main benefit will be to encourage people to adhere to the rules of social distancing and hygiene, The Times reported.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock this morning urged the British to download the software to "make the country safer" as he announced that nearly 10,000 people are contracting Covid every day.

However, today it turned out that the app is inaccessible on the iPhone 6 or older models. Social media users share their attempts to add them to their phones only to get an error message stating that iOS 13.5 or higher is required.

This Apple operating system can only be downloaded to the iPhone 6S and newer models – with the exception of cell phones that are more than five years old.

The app, which arrived four months late, can also be used on Android phones where it appears to work without any problems.

But millions of iPhone users are now said to be banned from the service. Age UK warned that many older people, who tend to have older phones, would be one of them.

Caroline Abrahams, the charity's director, told MailOnline: “It is unfortunate that you need a relatively new smartphone to use the NHS app as many people of all ages do not have one, especially the elderly.

"If you add the huge number of elderly people who do not have a smartphone at all, the result is that the NHS app is likely to overtake much of the elderly population."

The app was first tested on the Isle of Wight with the same iPhone software, so officials would have known many devices couldn't download it before it was rolled out on the mainland.

A screenshot shows an attempt to download the app onto an iPhone 5C. A message appeared that the software is out of date

Social media users shared attempts to download the app on their iPhone only to receive an error message stating that iOS 13.5 or later is required

Social media users shared attempts to download the app on their iPhone only to receive an error message stating that iOS 13.5 or later is required

The app uses Bluetooth technology to alert users when they've come into contact with someone who tests positive for the virus

The app uses Bluetooth technology to alert users when they've come into contact with someone who tests positive for the virus

Will the government know if I have been told to self-isolate so the police can punish me if I don't?

No, the system relies on users' goodwill to comply with the app's request to self-isolate.

App users are completely anonymous and the app cannot force them to isolate or identify themselves if they don't.

All personal information is anonymous and will not be sent to the government for the police to verify that the app instructions are being followed.

Contact Tracking App Q & A: How Does It Work & Will It Be A Sick Note For My Boss?

How it works:

Bluetooth technology records which phones are within 2 meters of each other for 15 minutes and then alerts people if they have been around someone who later tested positive for Covid-19.

People's phones are only recognized by the system if they run the app themselves – others cannot be recognized.

The contacts being tracked are all anonymous and phones exchange digital "tokens" with any phone using the app within Bluetooth range.

If a person develops symptoms of the coronavirus or tests positive, they can enter that information into the app.

The phone then sends a notification to any devices they exchanged tokens with during the infection window to alert users that they may have been exposed to COVID-19.

Each phone keeps an individual log of the Bluetooth profiles that someone has come close to. These are then anonymously linked to the users' NHS apps and alerts can be sent even if the person is out of Bluetooth range.

Will the app tell me what to do?

The app can only respond to data entered by people and only ever provides instructions. When a user reports that they have symptoms of a coronavirus – a new persistent cough, fever, or an altered sense of smell or taste – they will be prompted to self-isolate and get tested for 10 days from the onset of symptoms.

If you test positive for Covid-19 at any time, you should report this to the app. The app will then send an anonymous alert to anyone that person has been within 6 & # 39; 7 & # 39; (2m) for at least 15 minutes of feeling sick.

That person may then be asked to self-isolate or get tested if they feel uncomfortable.

Will the government know if I have been told to self-isolate so the police can punish me if I don't?

Will the app bring me a health insurance certificate?

If you need a health insurance certificate for an employer, you can inform the NHS online 111 service that the app has asked you to self-isolate and this will be generated.

How well does it work

The app is far from perfect. The Ministry of Health has admitted that around half of those warned they were in the vicinity of an infected person have not been within the 2 m window of danger for 15 minutes.

And three out of ten people at risk – 31 percent – receive no notification at all. In studies, it had an accuracy rate of 69 percent in detecting people at risk and an accuracy rate of 55 percent in detecting people who hadn't.

Brits are urged to use the app after it finally launched nationwide today. Officials hope that at a critical point where cases pick up again, it will play a vital role in containing the virus.

The Department of Health will be launching a major TV ad campaign tonight to drive adoption by asking the public to "protect your loved ones get the app".

Officials hope that between 15 and 50 percent of the population in England and Wales will use it.

Scotland and Northern Ireland have already released their own versions.

The app uses Bluetooth technology to alert users when they've come into contact with someone who tests positive for the virus, such as B. on public transport, in a shop, or with friends and family.

They will then receive a message asking them to self-isolate for 14 days and book a test, but only if they develop symptoms.

The device also allows users to check their symptoms online if they fear they might have the virus and book a test if necessary.

Additionally, they will be asked to use their apps to scan the “QR code” in all pubs, restaurants and leisure centers they visit in the event that a virus outbreak is associated with that venue.

Your contact details are then available for tracking.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock today urged people to download the software to "make the country safer".

"When you download the app, you also have this extra protection for you and your loved ones," he told Sky News.

The app, using a system developed by Apple and Google, has been tested on the Isle of Wight and Newham, London.

Apple regularly updates its operating system and prevents apps from using older software. This means that users with older iPhones may not be able to download newer apps.

This problem also affects the new Covid tracing app. Anyone using an iPhone 6 or earlier cannot use it.

Latest data from technology company Statista suggests 3.8% of UK smartphone users own an iPhone 6. With nearly 80 million smartphone users across the country, that means more than three million people own this model alone.

The app was due to launch in mid-May, but Health Secretary Matt Hancock had to ditch the technology after it didn't work on most smartphones.

Yesterday, Mr. Hancock said, “We are at a turning point in our efforts to control the spread of this virus.

& # 39; As infection rates increase, we must use every tool we can to prevent transmission, including the latest technology.

"Today's start is an important step forward in our fight against this invisible killer. I urge everyone to download and use the app to protect themselves and their loved ones."

Government officials don't set a target for the percentage of the population who want to download the app.

However, research at Oxford has shown that even if only 15 percent use it, it can significantly reduce the number of positive cases, hospital admissions and even deaths.

The Ministry of Health admits that the technology is still struggling to calculate accurate distances, which means that some users are mistakenly directed to self-isolate even if they have been more than six feet from an infected person.

Close contact is defined as being within six feet of someone for 15 minutes, but in early tests of the app, some people received notifications when they were four meters away.

Officials say that about 30 percent of people told to self-isolate may have been more than six feet from a positive case, but emphasize the difference is small and the majority are likely still 2.1 or 2.2 meters away.

They insist that the technology is far more precise when compared to other apps used elsewhere in the world, although they admit that "more work could be done" to improve it.

Baroness Harding, Executive Director of the NHS Test and Trace Program, said: “We want to make it as easy as possible for everyone to get involved with the NHS UK Test and Trace Service. This is a welcome step in protecting our fellow human beings. & # 39;

Last night, Health Department officials admitted the app would put pressure on the country's testing services, but said capacity is increasing and demand from other members of the public is falling.

Last week, Boris Johnson had to admit the country ran out of tests after more and more people tried to book them, in part because children were going back to school and spreading insects.

To encourage the public to download the new version, emotional TV commercials will be broadcast tonight at 7 p.m. with personal stories from families affected by the virus.

Professor Andrew Goddard, President of the Royal College of Physicians, said the app had to be "fit for purpose".

According to the NHS Test and Trace, 19,278 new people in England tested positive for Covid between September 10 and 16 today.

The UK reported 6,178 new daily cases, the highest number of infections since May 1, but has since increased testing capacity.

Health officials hope it will play a vital role in containing the virus at a critical point where cases pick up again. Pictured: a handout from the Ministry of Health

Health officials hope it will play a vital role in containing the virus at a critical point where cases pick up again. Pictured: a handout from the Ministry of Health

What software is behind the app and how does it contribute to some of its shortcomings?

By Joe Pinkstone for MailOnline

Named NHS Covid-19, the NHS contact tracking coronavirus app is based on software, an API developed by tech giants Apple and Google, that came together in an unprecedented alliance at the start of the pandemic.

It works via Bluetooth, which is connected to almost every smartphone in the world, and includes a notification system that notifies people when they have been in close proximity to someone diagnosed with Covid-19.

Apple and Google are letting the NHS determine what exposure is deemed appropriate for a person to be classified as at risk of infection.

The NHS has set the limit at 2 meters for 15 minutes.

However, Apple and Google have openly stated that the app is not perfect because it uses Bluetooth for something it was never designed to do.

As a result, phones with the app installed can have difficulty determining exactly how far away another device is.

Although the threshold is set at 2 meters, early experiments found that people up to 4 meters were classified as less than 2 meters away by the technology.

Officials say about 30 percent of people told to self-isolate were possibly more than six feet away from a positive case.

However, they claim that most of these falls will be within a distance of 2.1 m or 2.2 m, with 4 m being a rarity.

Apple and Google have been aware of this problem since the project began and recently announced that they used hundreds of different devices to calibrate the system.

It is claimed that the NHS app is more accurate than other contact tracking apps around the world that also use the Apple and Google APIs.

All of the technology for the app runs in the phone itself, and no external servers are used to protect user data.

No location or personal information is sent to Apple, Google, or the NHS, and all interactions between phones are anonymous.

The random and untraceable links are only stored on the phone itself for two weeks before they are permanently deleted.

A person can also choose to erase their data, either in the app's settings or by deleting the app.

In a conference call this week, representatives from Google and Apple said the app should improve, not replace manual tracking.

They added that in tests done in-house during development, 30 percent of exposure notifications triggered were not captured through manual contact tracing.

In order for a person to receive notification of infection through the app, both they and the infected person must have had the app at the time of their interaction.

During this interaction, for example on a bus, the telephones confirm that the device has met the criteria of 2 m / 15 min.

The devices then automatically exchange anonymous “keys” with each other via Bluetooth. The buttons are changed randomly every 15 minutes.

Then, when a person gets a positive test, they'll get a unique PIN from the NHS and enter it into the app.

Once that is done, all anonymized keys from the infected person's phone are added to a cloud database.

Each app is constantly checking in to the same cloud database to see if any of the keys it came in contact with match keys from positive tests.

When someone's phone finds a match, that person will receive a notification letting them know that they have been exposed and may be infected.

The app then provides that person with detailed information from the NHS on what to do next.

The mobile data needed for the app to work is provided free of charge by carriers in the UK and the app is believed to have a negligible impact on battery life.

Google Maps now shows coronavirus outbreaks in your area using a color-coded layer to highlight the number of cases

Google Maps adds a new layer that allows users to update information about coronavirus outbreaks in a selected region.

The new feature follows other coronavirus-related updates to Maps, including information on overcrowding, COVID-19 transit warnings and travel restrictions.

Users tap the "Layers" button in the right corner of the map and click "COVID-19 Information".

An average of seven days of new infections per 100,000 people is shown, as is a label indicating whether cases are trending up or down.

A new layer in Google Maps allows users to view details about COVID-19 outbreaks in a specific region such as the Florida Heartland (seen here). Seven-day averages are shown along with a label indicating whether the number of infections is trending up or down

A new layer in Google Maps allows users to view details about COVID-19 outbreaks in a specific region such as the Florida Heartland (seen here). Seven-day averages are shown along with a label indicating whether the number of infections is trending up or down

Google Maps users can tap the "Layers" button in the right corner of a map and click "COVID-19 Information".

The function is available worldwide at the country level and, if available, for cities, states and municipalities

Google Maps users can tap the "Layers" button in the right corner of a map and click "COVID-19 Information". The function is available worldwide at the country level and, if available, for cities, states and municipalities

Google Maps COVID-19 shift for the central United States. The color coding indicates the density of new cases, from gray (zero cases) to dark red (more than 40 cases per 100,000 population).

Google Maps COVID-19 shift for the central United States. The color coding indicates the density of new cases, from gray (zero cases) to dark red (more than 40 cases per 100,000 population).

How is Apple and Google's technology different from the NHS project?

NHS app: lists on NHS servers

The NHSX app creates an alert every time two app users come within Bluetooth range of each other and logs it on the user's phone. Each person would essentially make a list of everyone they have been in contact with. This would be anonymized so that the lists were really just numbers or codes, not lists of names or addresses.

If someone was diagnosed with the coronavirus, any app users they came close to during the time they were classified as infectious would receive a notification that they were at risk of COVID-19 – but it didn't become that Named person who diagnosed it.

NHSX insisted that people's data would have been deleted if they removed the app, but not the data that would have been uploaded to the NHS server if they or a contact had tested positive.

Apple / Google: Included on cell phones

With the decentralized approach by Apple and Google, the server and list element of this process are removed and the entire log is kept in someone else's phone. This app exchanges a digital "token" with any phone that is within Bluetooth range for a specified period of time.

If a person develops symptoms of the coronavirus or tests positive, they can enter that information into the app.

The phone then sends a notification to any devices they exchanged tokens with during the infection window to alert users that they may have been exposed to COVID-19.

The server database is not required as each phone keeps an individual log of the Bluetooth profiles that someone has come close to. These are then anonymously linked to the users' NHS apps, and alerts can be sent even if the person is out of Bluetooth range. People can delete their data from this app at any time.

The color coding on maps indicates the density of new cases: gray indicates no cases in a particular region, with yellow representing 1-10 cases, orange 10-20, dark orange 20-30 cases, red 30-40 cases, and dark red more than 40 Cases per 100,000 population.

The COVID shift will be rolled out worldwide this week for Android and iOS.

Trend data is visible at the country level for all 220 countries and territories supported by Google Maps, along with data at the country, county, and city levels if available.

According to Google, the numbers come from multiple sources – including Johns Hopkins, Wikipedia, and the New York Times – which in turn pull data from medical centers, state and local governments, and the World Health Organization.

"Many of these sources already support COVID case information searches, and we are now expanding this data to Google Maps," said Sujoy Banerjee, Google Maps product manager, in a blog post on Wednesday.

"We hope that these Google Maps features will get you where you want to be as safely and efficiently as possible."

In June, Google Maps started giving details about the public transport affected by the pandemic.

Driving warnings have also been added to inform drivers of COVID-19 checkpoints and restrictions on their route, including when crossing international borders.

Google Maps now also includes health facilities near users that support COVID-19 testing. A warning will remind users to review facility eligibility and policies to avoid being turned away or adding to the burden on the local healthcare system.

In some regions, users can also see which restaurants offer delivery and processing.

This month, Google partnered with Apple on contact tracking software over Bluetooth to alert people if they are in close proximity to someone diagnosed with COVID-19.

Users can use a unique PIN to decide whether to indicate they tested positive and keep their identity anonymous.

Google Maps addressed yet another national crisis this summer by adding a forest fire border map that provides near real-time an overview of a fire a traveler might encounter, with instructions on breaking news and helpful information from local authorities.

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