Switzerland to release contact tracing app using Apple and Google exposure notification API

By: Tech Desk | New Delhi |

Published: May 27, 2020 12:00:24 pm

contact tracing app, swisscovid, covid tracker, covid tracing, coronavirus, covid 19 tracer, apple google contact tracing As of today, employees at EPFL, ETH Zurich, the Army, and some hospitals and cantonal administrations can download the digital proximity tracing application “SwissCovid”. (Image: EPFL)

Switzerland is piloting a Covid-19 contact tracing app that uses the framework developed by Apple and Google. The EPFL Institute in Lausanne, Switzerland has helped develop the app named SwissCovid, which it claims is also the first in the world to put the Apple-Google model to use.

“This is the first time that the operating system updates from Google and Apple enable its deployment and testing on such a large scale,” says Professor Edouard Bugnion, Vice-President for Information Systems at EPFL.

The university confirmed that employees at EPFL, ETH Zurich, the Army, and select hospitals and government agencies will be testing the contact tracing application. It says that the pilot phase will last a few weeks and the app will be made available for the public across the country by mid-June after the Swiss parliament revises the law on the epidemic.

contact tracing app, swisscovid, covid tracker, covid tracing, coronavirus, covid 19 tracer, apple google contact tracing This large-scale pilot, the first in the world using the OS updates from Apple and Google, paves the way for public availability by mid-June. (Image: EPFL)

Just like other contact tracing applications developed by nations across the world, the SwissCovid aims to trace the contact history of a person and signal users when they are confirmed to have come in prolonged contact with a person who subsequently tested positive for the coronavirus or SARS-CoV-2.

Also read | Centre signals shift in stance: Aarogya Setu app no more mandatory

Notably, since the SwissCovid works on Apple-Google’s contact-tracing framework, it operates in a “decentralised” way. It means that the operations are not carried out on a centralised server but on each phone. The application uses Bluetooth to exchange and record the ephemeral proximity identifiers of other phones in the vicinity but does not track the location data of the user.

In contrast, the Indian government’s Covid-19 contact tracing app Aarogya Setu traces the location history of a user and stores the data on a server, thus raising questions over the privacy and security of user data.

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“The effectiveness of the app depends on its widespread adoption by the public. To achieve maximum uptake, the protocol designers chose to minimise the collection and sharing of information,” the EPFL said in a press release.

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