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This page offers all of Delaware Public Media's ongoing coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak and how it is affecting the First State. Check here regularly for the latest new and information.

Delaware contact tracing app developer learns from past developments

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Delaware DHSS
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Delaware released it’s new COVID-19 contact tracing app on Tuesday.

 

Irish based app developers NearForm were tasked with building out the Exposure Notification apps for the island of Ireland, Gibraltar and Scotland. They are now shifting focus towards the U.S. market, bringing what they’ve learned to Delaware.

 

NearForm’s technical Director, Colm Harte says when the app was released in the Republic of Ireland, 25 percent of the population downloaded it within a couple of days.

 

“Within the first couple of days we were seeing people test positive for COVID-19, they already had the app installed, they were then uploading their keys, and as a result of uploading those keys other people were getting the exposure alert notification to say they’ve been in close contact. And we’ve seen that pattern repeated when we rolled out in Northern Ireland and the same again in Scotland - A quick uptake and immediately within a day or two you’re starting to see that end to end flow.”

 

As of Thursday, only 1 percent of Delawareans have installed the app. 

 

The app uses the same backend tracking system developed by a partnership between Google and Apple. 

 

Harte says this partnership means that all the apps in every state can communicate with each other, regardless of who made it. If someone from Delaware travels to Virginia and is in contact with someone who tests positive, they’ll still be notified if both parties have their apps installed.

 

Harte says each app they’ve made requires a specialized approach to make it easy to use.

 

“They’re all designed to kinda work alongside with the existing manual contact tracing processes in place so they use the same type of language, they use the same sort of branding. That’s very important because obviously at the moment a lot of public health authorities are putting out a lot of messaging about COVID-19 and what to do and how to do it, etc. in your particular region. So the app needs to reinforce that same message and use that same messaging, not be something that’s different ‘cause that will just cause confusion.”

 

The Delaware Department of Public Health is urging people to get it. The more people that install the app, the more effective it is in tracking the spread of coronavirus.

 

NearForm is also working on an app for Pennsylvania. All the apps use the same framework, and are able to communicate with each other, in case someone travels to another state.

Roman Battaglia grew up in Portland, Ore, and now reports for Delaware Public Media as a Report For America corps member. He focuses on politics, elections and legislation activity at the local, county and state levels.
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