COVID Tracker is a free app for your mobile phone. It will help us to protect each other and slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Ireland.
Using the COVID Tracker app along with the existing public health measures will help us all stay safe when we meet up, socialise, work or travel.
HSE & Dept. Of Health COVID Tracker app
This app was launched yesterday and it has already been downloaded over 800,000 times. The following is useful information to share when encouraging friends and colleagues to use the app.
How it works
The app is part of the HSE contact tracing operation. It uses Bluetooth and anonymous IDs to log:
- 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
Every 2 hours the app downloads a list of anonymous IDs. These have been shared with the HSE by other people using the app who have tested positive for coronavirus.
If you have been closer than 2 metres for more than 15 minutes with any of these phones you’ll get an alert that you are a close contact.
The app does this work in the background. This means you can use your phone as normal.
It will be able to accurately tell if you have spent 15 minutes or longer near someone who tested positive for the virus. Most of the time it will also give an accurate estimate of the distance between you and this other app user. But it’s not perfect. No method of contact tracing is 100% perfect.
That’s why the HSE will continue to use two methods of contact tracing – their contact tracing team and the COVID Tracker app. This will improve contact tracing, help slow the spread of the virus, and protect you and others.
The app uses the Exposure Notification System (ENS) developed by Apple and Google. This allows phones to share anonymous IDs using Bluetooth. These IDs contain information about how close you were to another app user and how long you were close to them.
The anonymous IDs are codes made up of letters and numbers. You never see them. They cannot be used to identify users or their phones.
Using an anonymous ID means any information is collected anonymously. No one will ever know your personal details unless you choose to share them. This includes the HSE.
No one will know:
- your name
- who you met
- what locations you were in
- who tested positive for coronavirus
Mobile data use
The app uses about 1MB of data per week. This is about the same amount of data you would use for 6 minutes browsing the internet.
Using the app shouldn’t make a difference to your phone’s battery life. The app uses Bluetooth Low Energy. This is the same technology used by smartwatches or wireless earphones. It’s designed to be energy efficient.