The Irish Department of Health will use a platform developed by both Google and Apple for its new COVID-19 contact tracing app.
The US tech giants have come together during the COVID-19 pandemic to develop a platform that will enable governments and health authorities around the world to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
User privacy and security are central to the platform's design, the companies said in a statement.
Apple and Google have created Exposure Notifications technology that can contact people who may have been exposed to the virus.
Contact tracing is a key tool in the fight against COVID-19 as it enables health authorities to track anyone who has been in contact with a confirmed case, test them for the virus, isolate them if they test positive, and contain the further spread of the virus.
The platform uses Bluetooth technology to track people who may have been in contact with a confirmed coronavirus case.
The platform is not an app, rather it is a platform that can be used in different health authority apps around the world.
Public health agencies can use the platform to build an app that can be used on all Android and iPhone devices. The app can rapidly notify users who have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus.
The app is not designed to replace current contact tracing methods. Instead, it is designed to supplement and enhance them.
Green Party TD Ossian Smyth, who acts as the party's Health Spokesperson, confirmed on Twitter that the Irish Department of Health would be using the platform.
The Google-Apple contact tracing API has just been published. Minister Harris confirmed to me that the Irish app— Ossian Smyth TD (@smytho) May 20, 2020
-will use this API
-will have its source code published
-will be available in the App Stores for Northern Irish residents.https://t.co/TZrIwHCdxh
The two tech giants have been working with public health officials, scientists, privacy groups and government leaders throughout the world to develop the platform.
Google and Apple have implemented several measures to combat concerns that the apps would lead to a breach of privacy or security.
Anyone who uses the app must do so voluntarily and opt-in to Exposure Notifications.
Additionally, it is up to anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 to report that information in their country's public health app.
The system does not collect any data from users or access a device's geolocation.
The app can't be used for commercial purposes and only one app per country is permitted to ensure that there is no competition involved.
The companies argue that increased privacy settings will encourage more people to use the platform, which in turn makes the platform more efficient.
"User adoption is key to success and we believe that these strong privacy protections are also the best way to encourage use of these apps," the companies said in a statement.