Germany, one of the first European nations to successfully flatten the coronavirus curve, has reportedly changed its decision over what kind of smartphone tech it would use to trace COVID-19 infections in the country, switching over to an approach that is supported by global tech giants, Apple and Google.
A growing number of countries across Europe are backing this innovative approach as they rush to develop smartphone applications that can give users detailed information regarding the risk of contracting the coronavirus. The chain of COVID-19 infections is proving to be extremely difficult to break as the disease can be spread by those that do not show any symptoms.
In a joint statement, Germany’s Health Minister, Jens Spahn, and Chancellery Minister, Helge Braun stated that Berlin would be adopting a decentralized digital contact tracing approach, effectively abandoning its own home-grown approach, which could have facilitated health authorities with a centralized control over the tracing data.
Across Europe, several countries have selected short-range Bluetooth-based handshakes between smartphones as the best method of recording a potential contact. Although, this method does not record location-based data.
There is, however, no consensus on whether to store such contacts on the individual devices itself or on a dedicated central server, which is more useful to current contact tracing teams that are working with phones as well as door-to-door visits to warn the people that might be at risk.
As part of the decentralized approach, people can choose to share their respective phone numbers or the details of their symptoms, which will make it considerably easier for the country’s health authorities to contact these people and suggest the course-of-action they should take in case they are at risk.
However, the aforementioned consent would be offered inside the application, and would not be a part of the overall system’s central architecture.