STAYAWAY COVID, the Portuguese COVID-19 contact tracing app, is now available for iOS and Android mobile phones, completely free of charge. INESC TEC coordinated the consortium in charge of developing the STAYAWAY COVID, officially launched on September 1, at an event that featured Prime Minister António Costa. This application strengthens to the Portuguese resources against the pandemic, focusing on a quick return to normality.
The STAYAWAY COVID is now available on the Google Play Store and Apple App Store; the app’s main goal is supporting the country in tracing the COVID-19. In a simple, safe and private way, the app informs each user about high-risk exposure to the disease, through the monitoring of recent contacts. The application is voluntary and free to use, and it does not access the users’ identity or personal data at any time.
“The STAYAWAY COVID system is yet another tool at the service of a global strategy to address the current pandemic. Its sole purpose is to alert the users about close contacts – considered to be of high risk by the World Health Organization – with other users who, in the meantime, have tested positive to COVID-19. Strictly speaking, more than a digital tracing solution, it is a notification system on individual exposure to high-risk contagion factors. In this sense, it will complement the efforts already being made by healthcare authorities to identify and break the disease’s chains of infection”, said Rui Oliveira, member of INESC TEC’s Board of Directors and lecturer at the University of Minho.
A radar that warns you about recent close contacts
Once installed, the application emits random identifiers using Bluetooth and, similarly to a radar, gathers the identifiers broadcast by nearby mobile phones. With these identifiers available, the application can check if the user was dangerously close to a specific mobile phone on which the application is active, and whose user tested positive to COVID-19. In this case, being dangerously close means that said close contact occurred less than two meters, and for more than 15 minutes. As long as the app identifies and recognises the identifier broadcast by a mobile phone associated with a source of contagion, it will alert the user to the past occurrence of a high-risk exposure, advising the person to call the SNS24 phone line immediately.
European integration and interoperability
The STAYAWAY COVID system was designed and developed in close liaison with several European countries, and will soon be interoperable with all systems integrated by the central mechanism developed under the coordination of the eHealth Network, the EU’s network that aims to improve the access and quality of healthcare services, through the use of Information and Communication Technologies.
Prime Minister at the official kick-off event
The official launch of the application took place last Tuesday, September 1, during an event at the Porto School of Engineering (ISEP). The Prime Minister António Costa attended the event, together with Marta Temido, the Minister of Health; Manuel Heitor, the Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education; and Luís Goes Pinheiro, Chairman of the SPMS Board of Directors. José Manuel Mendonça, Chairman of INESC TEC’s Board of Directors, presented the application to the audience.
The Institute for Systems and Computer Engineering, Technology and Science (INESC TEC) was responsible for developing the STAYAWAY COVID, in partnership with the Institute of Public Health of the University of Porto (ISPUP), the companies Keyruptive and Ubirider.
The project was promoted by the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), within the scope of the National Digital Competences Initiative e.2030, Portugal INCoDe.2030, with the support of the Portuguese Mint and Official Printing Office (hosting of the system), the Portuguese National Cybersecurity Centre (supervision of development and security testing), NOS (mobile devices for research and testing) and Wavecom (equipment and support to Bluetooth research and testing).
More information available here.
The INESC TEC researcher mentioned in this news piece is associated with UMinho.