About a week and a half ago, the Spanish government announced the official activation of the COVID Radar, an official application for mobile devices to alert of infections of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which after a test phase in La Gomera that ended last July 31, it has been officially activated so that any user with an Android or iOS mobile can download and use it.
In fact, “the app is ready so that the health authorities can allow its adoption by the Autonomous Communities in order to begin connection work with their systems.” And that’s what happened.
Spanish provinces that use the Radar COVID app
The RadarCOVID app is already active in the testing phase in four autonomous communities of Spain. Once the technical integration process between the application and its health systems has been completed, Andalusia, Cantabria, Aragón and Extremadura are the first regions to have the development fully operational.
Yesterday, Wednesday, the Interterritorial Council of the National Health System approved an agreement so that the CCAA that are finishing this adaptation process can begin to operate in tests. It is a temporary agreement that allows the implementation of development to be accelerated, and that must be ratified through bilateral agreements between the health administrations of each autonomy and the Ministry of Health.
This is the first step in the national implementation plan of the application. To date, the application already has about two million downloads in its versions for the Android and iOS operating systems. At this time, the rest of the autonomous communities “have expressed their interest in adopting the tool and are carrying out the necessary technical work to integrate the application with their health systems to be able to launch it over the next few weeks.”
And, be careful, because each autonomous community in Spain must activate it in their protocols, and until all have done so (they have a maximum term of September 15), Radar COVID will not be fully operational throughout the Spanish territory.
What is COVID Radar, how does it work
The RadarCOVID app has been developed following “the most guaranteed technical standards with the privacy of users in compliance with all the recommendations made by the European Commission”. Therefore, no user can be identified or located because there is no data registered and because the entire process takes place on their phone without going to any server. In addition, both the use of the app and the communication of a possible contagion will always be voluntary.
The application uses the terminal’s Bluetooth connection, through which mobile phones emit and observe anonymous identifiers of other phones that change periodically. When two terminals have been close for 15 minutes or more, two meters or less apart, they both store the anonymous identifier issued by the other.
If any user were diagnosed positive for COVID-19 after undergoing a PCR test, they would decide whether to give their consent so that an anonymous notification can be sent through the health system. In this way, the mobiles that had been in contact with the patient would receive a warning about the risk of possible contagion and instructions would be provided on how to proceed. By not requesting data of any kind, it is impossible to identify or locate any user in any way.
Currently, the European Commission is developing the legal and technical framework that enables interoperability between applications based on the decentralized model, such as RadarCOVID, so that they can continue to function beyond the borders of each State.