Tracking App May Assist Iceland With Coronavirus Contact Tracing Skip to content

Tracking App May Assist Iceland With Coronavirus Contact Tracing

Icelandic authorities are creating an app to help contact trace coronavirus cases, RÚV reports. Residents of the country would be asked to install the app on their phones, and if they contract coronavirus, the data it collects could be used to help identify others they came into contact with. The app is expected to launch next week.

The app collects data about other phones in the area, making it easier to trace whom an individual was in contact with leading up to their coronavirus diagnosis. The initiative is a joint project of the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management and the Directorate of Health.

Víðir Reynisson, Chief Superintendent of the National Police Commissioner’s Office says the goal of the app is to speed up the contact tracing process. It will not replace the contact tracing team, which will continue to speak to those infected and work to map their contact with others around them.

Users control data access

Víðir says the data collected by the app will be in the ownership of the Directorate of Health and the same data protection rules will apply to it as to other databases in the health sector. App users will need to grant permission for the data collection upon downloading the app and then grant separate permission to healthcare authorities to access the data if an infection comes up. The data will be deleted once contact tracing is complete. Similar software has been used in South Korea and Singapore.

Hólmar Örn Finsson, a data protection representative at the Directorate of Health, told Vísir that the public does not have to worry that their data will be misused. “I just want to point out that we have got security experts with us in this. That’s why we based it on this double permission. You agree to download the app yourself. And if we need the data from you, you also agree to share it. Only then is it shared with the Department of Civil Protection’s contact tracing team.” Hólmar explains that the data will only be stored for a short time, likely just a couple of weeks. “No one should be able to access this data any more than any other data on your phone.”

Contact tracing has slowed spread of COVID-19

Effective contact tracing and quarantine of those who have been at risk of infection have proven to be effective tools in slowing the spread of COVIC-19 in Iceland. Nearly half of those who have been confirmed with the virus, or 49%, were already in quarantine when their infection was confirmed.

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