Contact Tracing using Apple/Google solution

There is a risk with the UK Government's 'centralised' solution, that the only people that will download the app are UK citizens. Scotland should look to use the decentralised model offered by Apple/Google, in keeping with the majority of global thinking on this topic, to maximise the possible reach of such a solution.

Why the contribution is important

This will be of specific importance to travel sectors...since the UK app will most likely only be downloaded by UK citizens, and thus the reach of the notification system will only cover that specific group. By opting for the model that's becoming more widely accepted around the globe, it will allow for international visitors who are also contributing to the decentralised system to provide/receive alerts based on COVID contact. It should make things a lot easier when it comes to encouraging international visitors to return to Scotland.

by pilki42 on May 06, 2020 at 11:28AM

Current Rating

Average rating: 4.4
Based on: 49 votes


  • Posted by jriddell May 06, 2020 at 11:39

    Contact tracking apps are important but the NHS England app does not use best practice. It is not open source so we can not review it is best practice. It uses a centralised database creating a privacy infringement accessible to a government with a previous record of breaking the law in this area. They have said they will keep this data indefinitely which creates a long term risk of abuse. Rather than being reviewed by an independenct auditor it is being reviewed by GCHQ who have a remit to do mass surveilance. It would be better to share the source code with apps from other EU countries which use best practice security and privacy.
  • Posted by DaveC May 06, 2020 at 11:41

    I’d support use of Apple/Google app. There’s no need for U.K. government to reinvent wheel. Also perceived U.K. government security issues More useful too for those who continue to come our shores unhindered as may be already doing so.
  • Posted by Jules101 May 06, 2020 at 11:43

    How will such apps distinguish between upstairs and downstairs neighbours in tenement and flats. People are vertically separated, but on a map we would look like we are all gathered in same place. Noone seems to answer this!
  • Posted by Winnieand May 06, 2020 at 11:45

    I would be happier using Google or apple if it is secure and won't continue beyond the pandemic.
  • Posted by pilki42 May 06, 2020 at 11:46

    Whilst I didn't mention privacy in my original idea post. @Jriddell's point is an extremely important one also. I must admit, I'm a bit concerned about the centralised model that NHS England is pursuing and their choice is actually putting me off from downloading the app if it becomes recommended for Scotland.
  • Posted by markymalarky May 06, 2020 at 11:47

  • Posted by pilki42 May 06, 2020 at 11:48

    FYI @Jules101 regarding vertical separation... "On this point, the TCN Coalition and the Apple/Google joint project argue that Bluetooth signal strength nonetheless serves as a proxy for sharing airspace with someone. Apple and Google plan to use Received Signal Strength Indication as a metric for determining if phones are in proximity, calibrated to account for the Bluetooth radios and ranges of different phones. Both distance and obstacles like walls diminish RSSI, meaning someone in the neighboring apartment would likely appear equivalent to someone well outside of Covid-19 transmission range. Google and Apple say they're also considering blending in other factors as well, like using proximity sensors to determine if a phone is inside a bag or a pocket, which might diminish RSSI but not Covid-19 transmission." Source:
  • Posted by Lornab May 06, 2020 at 11:52

    My first thought on hearing about the app was great i will down load this. However seeing who is behind this and all the security or lack of i certainly would want to put this on ,my phone. Go with the Apple and google version as used in other countries and more people will download this - otherwise it is pointless
  • Posted by xraypat May 06, 2020 at 11:52

    I would use the app if it was secure and guaranteed not to be used for any other purpose than TTI
  • Posted by Flem1xyz May 06, 2020 at 11:58

    I support the use of an App but feel it would be more beneficial if the whole of the UK used the same one. However I do worry how secure this app will be?
  • Posted by Iar1968 May 06, 2020 at 12:02

    I'd prefer to use a Google app in line with our European neighbours.
  • Posted by RosG May 06, 2020 at 12:03

    There seem to be a lot of flaws being identified with the U.K government app, I’m particularly concerned about the government not seeming willing to commit to not using the information gathered for any other purposes in the future. If there’s a possibility the people of Scotland might be asked to use this app, please can the Scottish government carry out some research to check if enough people would download it to make it useful. I’d agree with what others have said, that wit would make sense to use either an internationally recognised app, or something that can be used alongside apps developed around the world for people who wish to travel abroad in the future
  • Posted by AM22 May 06, 2020 at 12:18

    Happy to use an app if it helps reduces the spread of the virus. Could it be made a requirement to allow someone to move out of their bubble or back in a workplace.
  • Posted by BeeCurry May 06, 2020 at 12:42

    Yes this is all good but in my industry Mobile phones are not permitted. My personal phone does not have up to date upgrades ( its to old) it never will. Until we have a tried and tested method of testing every one not just those with symptoms or suspected symptoms, but proper antigen tests that can state you have had it then we will never know how this is contained or spreading. If everyone initially got sent a home test to complete this would at least give us a base to start. Houses don't move everyone can be accounted for.
  • Posted by LanarkshireResident May 06, 2020 at 12:47

    Concerns about privacy are valid but in this unique set of circumstances we should just get on it. Either other systems would be fine but the added value is probably worth it. We can delete the app later.
  • Posted by Gordy May 06, 2020 at 13:13

    Absolutely! The Cummings/Cambridge Analytica/Vote leave app is simply not to be trusted. We should be using best practice and using the Google Apple apps and the one that our EU friends use.
  • Posted by zuzan May 06, 2020 at 13:50

    Whatever app is used must be decentralised - not the NHSX app. Also think that any app we do use should work with other decentralised apps from other countries .. international compatibility is going to be key for industries like tourism. It's really important for public trust to use a decentralised app for this .. this is an excellent model of a decentralised app that ensures privacy and any possible nuisance reporting is blocked (nb where someone self reports to cause inconvenience to others they have had contact with.) This is a model for how it could work
  • Posted by nigelpentland May 06, 2020 at 15:13

    I am both fully supportive of adopting the Google/Apple approach and completely against the NHSX approach. The Google/Apple approach ends up being more restrictive in how it can be extended / re-used for additional purposes and less susceptible to scope creep. I also noted the comments saying we can just delete the app later. Well, maybe you can delete the app, but there doesn't appear to be any provision to delete users data, both on other phones and also held centrally by NHSX. If Scotland were to adopt the NHSX app, does this mean they will be interafcing / exposing the Scottish CHI numbers to a potentially illegal system under GDPR? Would no doubt be fascinating to see what legal advice you receive on this issue and whether the Scottish Government would have to shoulder any responsibility for so doing.
  • Posted by Scotelka May 06, 2020 at 18:51

    Great idea. Personally, I am extremely reluctant to download the NHS one, I'd gladly get one by Google or Apple. Data security is my main concern.
  • Posted by alloha May 07, 2020 at 09:53

    A correct idea.
  • Posted by Simpsojf May 07, 2020 at 16:05

    There is a huge issue with trusting the UK Government with our personal data. I personally would not do so.
  • Posted by Gesabrek May 08, 2020 at 07:20

    There is no personal data being stored on the app and most large systems used by banks, NHS, councils store personal data in central systems. I really don't see the problem apart from people jumping on political band wagons rather than trying to support measures which MAY HELP IN SOME SMALL WAY SAVE LIVES! Do you really trust the American companies more than the UK? Do you think this data is stored on your phone or held centrally?
  • Posted by RowPrice May 08, 2020 at 13:30

    I was hopeful am hopeful that the Scottish Govt would go with the Apple and Google version. I have grave concerns that Public Health England/UK Govt are developing this app. We need to learn the lessons of the data leakage - when they developed the NHS England personal online systems. By going a different route to other EU countries such as Ireland, Germany and other countries such as New Zealand, South Korea etc the UK Govt got some things badly wrong and the risks were too great - herd immunity. Why not learn the recent lessons and don't try to reinvent a different system - go with the Apple and Google version as used in other countries and more people will download this - otherwise its too late if Scotland invest in the new created system developed by Public Health England /UK Govt and then its found to be faulty/leaky.
  • Posted by GRS May 09, 2020 at 14:59

    I made this comment earlier this on another App related posting and include it here for completeness and information for those interested in this subject. Apple and Google are developing a decentralised framework for worldwide COVID-19 contact tracing apps. Their framework is able to run seamlessly in the background on peoples phones while other apps run in the foreground or don't work properly when a phone is locked. Unless the UK Government changes tack and amends their current App to use the joint Apple/Google framework then the App is going to have the same problems as Australia, Columbia and the Isle of Wight users are currently experiencing. Australia and Columbia are now going to reconfigure their Apps to use the Apple/Google protocol. Unless these issues can be resolved it would be prudent for the Scottish Government to look closely at adopting the Apple/Google protocol for their App. This article on the subject is worth reading:
  • Posted by GordonFife May 11, 2020 at 13:38

    There is no point in developing a contact tracing app unless you can get a *lot* of people to use it. The evidence so far suggests that where a country has adopted a centralised approach, the uptake has been lower, and a significant number of the people who initially sign up, subsequently uninstall the app. The de-centralised approach gives the user more control over the privacy of what is, after all, sensitive personal data. This means that more people are inclined to install the app, and to use it, as has been demonstrated in those countries that have adopted a de-centralised approach. It therefore makes far more sense to adopt a de-centralised approach, otherwise it is going to take longer, and require further lockdown periods in order to control the spread of the virus. It makes no sense to spend time and money developing an app that, based on the evidence so far, will not deliver the desired results (i.e., the control of the spread of the virus) in a timely manner.
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