Clouds re­main over sec­ond at­tempt at con­tact trac­ing app

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Technology Intelligen­ce - By Matthew Field

MA­JOR ques­tions about the ef­fec­tive­ness of the coro­n­avirus con­tact trac­ing app have been left unan­swered, ex­perts have warned on the eve of its launch.

Fail­ure to demon­strate how the tech­nol­ogy has per­formed dur­ing test­ing on the Isle of Wight and in the London bor­ough of Ne­wham risks dent­ing public con­fi­dence as its suc­cess de­pends on up­take, the Health Foun­da­tion said.

Prof Lil­ian Ed­wards, an ex­pert on tech­nol­ogy law at New­cas­tle Univer­sity who ad­vised on the UK’s first at­tempt at a con­tact trac­ing app, told The Daily Tele­graph: “It is odd that af­ter ex­ten­sive tri­als, we still don’t know what the false pos­i­tive and false neg­a­tive rates are for be­ing iden­ti­fied as a close con­tact.”

A Depart­ment of Health and So­cial Care spokesman said tri­als had shown the app was ac­cu­rate, adding: “En­sur­ing a wide range of peo­ple down­load and use the app is es­sen­tial.”

The new con­tact trac­ing app, NHS Covid-19, will be re­leased in Eng­land and Wales to­mor­row fol­low­ing months of de­lays, tech­ni­cal hitches and pri­vacy is­sues.

Sim­i­lar apps are al­ready avail­able in Scot­land and North­ern Ire­land.

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