The future of Radar Covid: turn of the autonomous communities

Technology News

The tracking ‘app’ has been a race against time for its launch; its use now depends on the solidarity of citizensA good part of the hopes of the Government, health personnel, trackers and businessmen to stop the reappearance of infections are placed on a single ‘app’. “Technology can also save lives when used to meet a challenge like the one before us. For this reason, we have promoted the Radar Covid application , ” said the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, on Tuesday, while” urging “communities to join it and download it from the Google and Apple stores.

Perhaps you are one of the 2.6 million people who have already done it. This application that you keep in the memory of your smartphone has required a race against time of technicians from various Administrations and private companies who have managed to launch an app that is reliable, anonymous and potentially interoperable with other countries in our environment.

Phones with Android operating system . The application is available at this link to the Google Play Store.
Phones with iOS operating system . The application is available at this link to the Apple App Store.

The starting shot was fired on May 20 by the Third Vice President and Minister of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation, Nadia Calviño . That day, she announced in the Congress of Deputies the decision to launch it within a month in the Canary Islands. Spain was a little late: most of the EU countries already had theirs, and they had been available to their inhabitants for weeks.

This delay, however, has made it possible to avoid (at least for now) the mistakes that other countries have made. “If between March and April, at the height of the pandemic, the Ministry of Health had decided to introduce a tracking technology that we already knew was causing failures, the health system would have been saturated,” Pablo Hernández, General Director of Modernization, recently assured and Quality of the Services of the Government of the Canary Islands and technological consultant of the project.

Nadia Calviño had to decide between a centralized model, like France and the United Kingdom; or a decentralized one, like Germany or Italy. In the first option, the authorities can know and track identities, so you have to trust that they only use the app to combat covid-19. In the decentralized model, the most important operations occur on mobile, to which only users have access. Spain opted for this second option. That is why the information is encrypted, anonymous and not accessible. France and the United Kingdom, by the way, have reaped resounding failures with their respective apps .

The company in charge of developing the app was Indra. And the first test of the resulting product took place shortly after, on June 29 on the island of La Gomera. That day, the central government and the Canary Islands launched a pilot test of almost a month. According to his calculations, the app should be downloaded on at least 3,000 devices on the island. Over two weeks, the technicians were introducing waves of false positives, reaching a total of 300. Objective, to test their response and their reliability.

On August 3, La Moncloa announced that the app had passed the pilot test with flying colors. The situation of the pandemic, however, forced to accelerate the plans. The Executive’s plans passed because the application was available as of September 15. The month began, however, with stronger and stronger outbreaks emerging from every corner. For this reason, that day, the Secretary of State for Digitalization and Artificial Intelligence, Carme Artigas, announced that in a week a provisional version of Radar Covid would be available for the autonomous communities.

And it is that the tracking application consists of two phases. The first is the application itself that each citizen downloads and, once installed, proceeds to collect identifiers (if bluetooth is activated). This stage is crucial: “If we do not reach eight or ten million downloads, the utility will be scarce,” estimates Santiago García, general director of Digital Transformation and Relations with users of the Cantabrian Government, reports Javier Martín-Arroyo .

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