Italy to track coronavirus patients via Immuni app
Discussions on how Italy will tackle the second phase of the coronavirus pandemic are taking place. The latest news is that Italy will use a smartphone app, Immuni, developed by tech start-up Bending Spoons to track people who test positive to the coronavirus.
The contact-tracing app will work with Bluetooth
The Immuni app will track people who test positive to the coronavirus by using Bluetooth technology. Bluetooth allows you to track the proximity between two smartphones that are within one meter from one another, retracing all the meetings of a person which tested positive to Covid-19. This means that the app is able to trace and isolate all the potentially infected users. When someone tests positive to the coronavirus, the app will send an alert to the users who have been in contact with that individual, sending a range of recommendations on how to handle the situation while always maintaining anonymity.
Anonymity is at the core of the app but how does it work? The Bluetooth will generate numeric keys, leaving all sensitive data on the smartphone itself, preventing it from being stored on external servers. For example, if a user is infected, all those that have come into contact with that user will receive an alert, notifying that someone they’ve come in contact with is infected. The identity of the infected user will be kept anonymous. At that point, all users will be given guidelines on what to do next.
The app’s second function
The app will have a dual function: that of contact tracking using Bluetooth technology, and that of a clinical diary containing the user’s most relevant medical information (sex, age, past illnesses, medications), which should be updated on a daily basis with any symptoms and changes in health.
The app won’t be mandatory
Downloading the Immuni app won’t be mandatory, the use of the contact-tracing app will be entirely voluntarily and it will be in line with the country’s data protection authority and the European privacy rules. In order for the app to be effective, it is estimated that 60% of the population would need to download the app. “We hope our citizens will adopt it massively, as their support is needed to make a contact-tracing system work,” said Domenico Arcuri, the government’s special commissioner for the coronavirus emergency.
The app will initially test in certain regions
The contact-tracing app will initially test in some Italian regions. Once the regional testing is over, the goal is to make the app available nationwide, becoming “a pillar of our strategy to deal with the post-emergency phase,” said Arcuri. He continued saying: “the system of tracking contacts will help us capitalize on the experience of the previous phase and avoid that the infection be replicated.”