The coronavirus pandemic put paid to May Day festivities on the Isle of Wight this week and brought the spotlight to the island for a very different purpose: it has been designated a testing ground for a tracing app aimed toward stemming the virus’s spread.
Walking down the unusually quiet High Street in Cowes, where visitors often step off the ferry from the south coast of England, local councilor and well-being service worker Anni Adams stated her home city would have been preparing street parties.
As an alternative, Adams is one of the health service employees and council workers who, on Tuesday, turned the first cohort to start downloading to their sensible phones an app the British government hopes can help limit the transmission of the virus, which has now infected over 3.5 million people worldwide.
It’s Britain’s answer to the kind of software which, along with wider testing and tracking, is seen as vital to easing constraints on the movement that have paralyzed economies.
Utilizing it will be voluntary, giving the option to anyone who has signs of COVID-19 or a positive test, to enter their details to begin the tracing process.
Unlike related projects in other European nations, Britain has chosen to process data centrally rather than on the units themselves, where the next stage of privacy will be guaranteed.