NHSX WORKING TO RESOLVE PHONE COMPATIBILITY ISSUES WITH CORONAVIRUS CONTACT TRACING APP

Although 55,000 downloads of the new coronavirus contact tracing app have been achieved since it launched on the Isle of Wight last week, some residents have been unable to make the app work as older phones may not have the right Bluetooth capability.

Dr Geraint Lewis, NHS England’s chief data officer, told journalists yesterday (Sunday) that the NHS is urgently trying to make it available to those phones which cannot support the app.

Dr Lewis said:

Article continues below this advertisement

“There are three elements to it — we had to start with some of the most common phones first and we are working our way through the list.

“Secondly,  if the physical phone itself is very old, it might not have the low energy Bluetooth function within it [to make the app work] and there is nothing we can do about that.

“The third reason is the operating system might be old. The app supports systems 8 and above for Androids and iOS 11 and above. If is it the operating system that is a problem, we can advise people to update their phones.”

“Like any high-quality app, the intention is for it to improve over time. For example, things like Facebook continue to update overnight and it is continually learning and improving and that is what we are proposing to do here”.

There still remains queries over how the app works and whether data will really be kept private.

Article continues below this advertisement

Dr Lewis said:

“The way the app works, the user data is completely anonymous up until the point where you want to order a test kit, at which point you have to give us the contact details so we know where to send the test.

“All of the legal protections people would expect, such as GDPR, all of those things apply as well as the same protections we have in place for any NHS data set.

“The NHS looks after people’s very private details and we have established ways of dealing with that.”

Article continues below this advertisement

When the coronavirus pandemic is over, the app will be removed from the app stores and people asked to delete it from their phones.

“It may be better to think about ‘mothballing’ it,” said Dr Lewis, “just in case another pandemic were to come back in the future.

“Then we can hit the ground running because we will have all of the intellectual property available in the NHS app.”

Simon Bryant, director of public health for the Isle of Wight, said there will be a lot of learning from it that might be helpful.

Don’t miss another story! Get the Island’s latest news delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up to our daily newsletter here.

The views/opinions expressed in these comments are solely those of the author and do not represent those of Island Echo. House rules on commenting must be followed at all times.
5 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Original Mark
Original Mark
2 years ago

Most people with older operating systems cannot just “update their phones” without physically buying a new one. The fact that Dr Lewis even suggests that indicates a worrying lack of basic knowledge on his part.

Let me make this totally clear for him – Over two thirds of Android devices do not have android 8 and most of those CANNOT be upgraded.

Advising people to do so just causes confusion and annoyance – it is not “working to resolve problems”

As for phone hardware not supporting BLE, virtually all phones made since 2012 can support BLE.

Pet
Pet
Reply to  Original Mark
2 years ago

Now our Government has all the hospitals as fully equipped as they will ever be, they are forcing us back to work in the full knowledge that the virus will now spread to almost everyone before the vaccine, if ever, is found. As now, as we become ill, those who need hospitalisation will be sure of a bed. Thus should they die, which currently, over half of those admitted do, then it will be in the privacy of a ward, not dying at home which would cause much distress to the families of the victims. More importantly to the Tory party far less backlash to them which would have happened IF our NHS was seen to be able to admit all those dying victims. So, most of us will get this, yet over a longer time span, allowing hospitals to be able to admit us, and if we don’t make… Read more »

Pet
Pet
Reply to  Pet
2 years ago

Erratum. For ” IF our NHS was seen to be able to admit all those dying victims.”

Read ” IF our NHS was seen to NOT be able to admit all those dying victims.

Banjo
Banjo
Reply to  Pet
2 years ago

Not “half of those admitted” to hospital but possibly half of those admitted to intensive care, which is completely different.

warbi
warbi
Reply to  Original Mark
2 years ago

Original Mark – I’m afraid you have misinterpreted the stats. As of today according to Google themselves, Android 8 (Oreo) is available on 60.8% of devices worldwide. Since that includes 3rd world countries I would expect the distribution to be even higher in the UK.

Also, while I agree most phones will be incapable of taking an upgrade (for many reasons), but it would be foolish to not even attempt it for those few who have avoided an upgrade. It’s a bit steep to suggest that Dr Lewis lacks basic knowledge.

 

Join our daily newsletter

News, Traffic & Travel Tweets