A new smartphone application, designed to alert users when they have been near another app user who has recently discovered that they have COVID-19, has been launched today for Islanders to download.
The Government of Jersey has worked in partnership with Digital Jersey and technology developer NearForm, to develop the app, which determines whether users have been close (15 minutes or more spent within 2 metres) to a positive case of coronavirus.
The free app will work alongside the current contact tracing system and create another level of protection against community seeding of the virus. When an alert comes through to someone, they will be advised to talk to the Contact Tracing Team to get advice specific to their situation.
Julian Blazeby, Director General for Justice and Home Affairs, said: “The app does not replace any other measures currently in place. It is an additional service which aims to support the work of the Contact Tracing Team. It has been shown that as little as a 15% take up within the population would have an impact on the ability of this virus to spread within the community.
“The Government’s strategy to delay contain and shield aims to protect Islanders, avoid imposing harsh restrictions on the entire community and to sustain relatively normal routines. If we can continue to adhere to public health measures, now also signing up for this app, we have a stronger chance to protect those who are vulnerable to COVID in our Island.”
Dr Ivan Muscat, Deputy Medical Officer of Health, said: “This app should be used as another layer of protection for Islanders. If as many Islanders as possible can download it, it will help us create an even better picture of where COVID cases are and how many people are at risk as a result of having been close to these cases.
“With this addition to the other layers of protective measures we already have in place, such as our Safer Travel policy, physical distancing and greater hygiene, we will further improve our ability to continue isolating positive cases and their contacts, and this will help prevent the further spread of the virus. ”
The app is anonymous and only retains necessary data for a 14-day period. Any information subsequently passed onto the Contact Tracing Team when users contact them may be held in line with the Public Health Law.
Tony Moretta, CEO of Digital Jersey, said: “The app does not track your location in any way. It uses Bluetooth to record the anonymous IDs of devices you come into contact with. It does not need any form of personal data from users, which protects anonymity and confidentiality. As a close-knit community we are encouraging as many people as possible to download the app to protect their colleagues, their family and their community.”
CEO of NearForm, Cian Ó Maidín, said: “The Jersey COVID Alert app is built with privacy at its core to empower citizens to protect each other and break transmission chains. Using open source peer-reviewed technology, the people of Jersey have a world class tool which has already been successfully rolled out in Ireland, Scotland and several US states, including New York and New Jersey.”
The app is available to those with up to date smartphones – both Android and Apple. For Islanders who do not use smartphones, they are advised to follow existing public health measures and will continue to be supported by the Contact Tracing Team and Helpline.
For more information on the app and how it works please see https://covidalert.gov.je
Government of Jersey News Release.