COVID Tracker is a free app for your mobile phone and is now available to download.
The app speeds up contact tracing which identifies people who may be at risk from coronavirus because they were in close contact with someone who has the virus. If the contact tracing team identify you as a close contact, they can advise you on what action to take to protect yourself and others.
Contact tracing is a vital part of slowing the spread of the virus. The more people that download and use the app, the more it will help contact tracing.
It has been estimated that one million people will have downloaded the app since launch.
The COVID Tracker app uses a number of technologies to help to speed up contact tracing in Ireland.
If you use the app you will:
- be told if you have been in close contact with another app user who has tested positive for coronavirus
- be able to track any symptoms you have and get advice on what to do
- be able to anonymously warn close contacts if you test positive for coronavirus
- make contact tracing quicker for the health service
- help map and predict the spread of the virus
Installation and use
- Download the free app from your usual app store.
- Choose what information you want to share, or not.
- Use your phone and other apps as normal – the app does its work in the background
You should be able to use the app if your phone:
- is less than 5 years old
- uses Apple’s iOS 13.5 or higher or Google’s Android 6.0 or higher
You will need to declare you are 16 or older. This is the digital age of consent.
Optional information sharing
When you first use the COVID Check-In to record how you are feeling you’ll have the option to share:
- the county or town you live in
- the age group you are in
- your sex
We will not ask for precise details about your age or where you live. You can choose to share the information or not.
Contact tracing finds people who may be at risk from coronavirus because they were in close contact with someone who has the virus. They can then be alerted and advised on what action to take to protect themselves and others.
How it works
The app is part of our 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.
You’ll be asked to give the app permission to use Bluetooth on your phone. Bluetooth needs to remain on for contact tracing to work.
The app uses Bluetooth low energy (LE) to estimate the distance and time between app users. It has been designed to make the best use of this technology.
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 we use two methods of contact tracing – our 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
You can download the app from your usual app store now.