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Digital solution Contact tracing app ready this month, says expert

Marcel Salathé at press conference

Data will be encrypted, will not be stored centrally, and will be regularly deleted to preserve personal privacy, says expert Marcel Salathé. 

(Keystone)

The decentralised contact tracing app DP-3T, designed to alert users who have come into contact with people infected with coronavirus, should be ready by May 11, or at least the second half of the month, says a government expert.

Marcel Salathé, who heads the expert group on digital epidemiology, told a press conference on Friday that the system being developed for Switzerland has met interest from Google and Apple but gave reassurances as to user privacy. It will be offered by the Swiss federal government as an App that people can download on a voluntary basis. 

Swiss health authorities are working with the European consortium behind the project with the aim of having the system ready for use in Switzerland. DP-3Texternal link is being offered as a digital antidote to the spate of nationwide lockdowns during the coronavirus pandemic.

The app employs Bluetooth technology to allow smartphones to communicate with each another anonymously. If a person tests positive for coronavirus, all the people with whom that person was in contact in previous days could be alerted so as to isolate themselves and get tested.

Switzerland’s two Federal Institutes of Technology (ETHZ and EPFL) announced on April 21external link that the Decentralized Privacy-Preserving Proximity Tracing system, which can be downloaded onto smartphones, was close to completion.

“It will be based on the DP-3T concept of EPFL and will leverage the new Google and Apple Contact Tracing APIs as soon as they are available,” Pascal Strupler, Director-General of the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health, is quoted as saying in a press release.

ETHZ and EPFL had also been part of another European contact tracing app, the Pan-European Privacy-Preserving Proximity Tracingexternal link (PEPP-PT) system. But both institutions later pulled out of the project, saying that its use of centralised systems to store data did not respect personal privacy.

The DP-3T project is part of the Swiss National Covid-19 Science Task Forceexternal link, a national scientific advisory board set up to tackle the pandemic.


swissinfo.ch/mga

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