April 28, 2020

      Latvia to launch one of the first contact tracing apps built on the new Apple & Google API

      A digital Covid-19 contact tracing app will belaunched in Latvia, which will be one of the first apps of its kind built onGoogle and Apple's newly released exposure notification API.


      The app, called ''Apturi Covid,''(eng. – ''stop covid'') is the fruitof a non-profit social initiative, built pro-bono by leaders in the country'svibrant ICT industry in just one month. It has been endorsed by a nationalgovernment that has shown great flexibility and decisiveness when it comes toinitiatives aimed at combating Covid-19.

      With the help of Bluetooth technology, the appcan detect and register other mobile devices that are in close proximity for atleast a 15 minute period. All data is encrypted and stored directly on thedevice and won't be accessible to the phone owner or other users of the app.

      This strong privacy protection ensures thatthe app is fully GDPR compliant and that processing of the exposurenotification protocol is decentralized, as it takes place on the device ratherthan in a central server.

      The stored data will only be put to use if anew Covid-19 case is detected. Without disclosing the infected person'sidentity, ''Apturi Covid'' will notify all users with whom the infected personhas been in close contact. These people will be asked to avoid contact withothers to prevent the spread of the disease.

      ''Thanks torestrictive measures and public participation, Latvia is the country with thethird lowest incidence of Covid-19 in the European Union and low mortality, butwe must not stop. With the involvement of people and the use of moderntechnology, we can once again gain time and go a step further. The new app willallow epidemiologists to identify contacts more quickly.'' - Elīna Dimiņa, Headof the Infectious Diseases Surveillance and Immunization Division of theInfectious Diseases Risk Analysis and Prevention Department.

      The app is built in Latvia – the country withthe third-most active smartphone users in Europe, according to the OECD. Eventhough the use of the app will be voluntary, it is estimated that it willinitially be used by at least 1/5 of the population. A recent study by Oxford University predicts that a 10%to 20% uptake is enough to have a positive effect on limiting the spread of thevirus.

      Adoption of the new Google & Apple APIensures that the user experience for the app will be the best possible, withoutthe need for complex restrictions in order to maintain continuous use ofBluetooth. The developers believe that reliance on this standard will ensurewidespread adoption and also compatibility over time with contact tracing appsaround the world that are also expected to adopt the same exposure notificationframework over time.

      The ''Apturi Covid'' app is developed byrepresentatives of the Latvian ICT sector and science, including the country'slargest mobile operator LMT, software development companies MAK IT, Autenticaand Zippy Vision, software testing service TestDevLab, experts from theUniversity of Latvia, and startup community representative Andris K. Berzins.Several state institutions have also been involved: the President and theChancellery of the President, the Centre for Disease Prevention and Control(SPKC), NATO StratCom, as well as health professionals and epidemiologists.

      Elīna Lidere


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