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Fri Jun 19, 2020, 02:03 PM

COVID-19 tracing apps now live in Germany, France, and Italy; U.K. rethinks its plans

Venture Beat
By CHRIS O'BRIEN JUNE 19, 2020 10:10 AM

With coronavirus cases on the decline in most European nations, countries have been gradually rolling out their contact tracing apps in the hopes of avoiding a second wave of cases that require extensive economic lockdowns. ... The issue of interoperability has come to the forefront as European countries have begun opening their borders for travel... EU leaders are anxious to track any potential outbreaks across borders.

The COVID-19 app France released uses a centralized system that collects data on a remote server and performs potential matching there. During its first 8 days, the app had a reported 1 million downloads. While privacy advocates have criticized this approach, French officials have insisted that controlling the data would give them more insight into the virus while also protecting its national sovereignty.

... Germany, which early on considered the centralized approach, then quickly pivoted to the decentralized one. Germany released its app on June 16, and it reportedly has 10 million downloads in three days. In addition to Germany, similar decentralized apps have now launched in:

Denmark: This Scandinavian country joined the contact tracing club on July 17.
Italy: The country, which has been one of the hardest hit by the coronavirus, introduced its app on June 1.
Poland: This rolled out on June 9 after undergoing some serious evolution. Initially, it was a self-reporting app. Later, it added a Bluetooth capability that captured data from other users in proximity, but used a centralized approach. The latest version is now using the decentralized
Latvia: This Baltic country made its app available on May 29.
Switzerland: This launched in a pilot phase, but is expected to go national before the end of the month.

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