Belgium’s coronavirus tracing app enters a second pilot phase today as 10,000 users across the country test it ahead of its release to the wider public.
Following an initial test phase involving 90 people and two simulated scenarios, the new pilot phase will test the app’s behaviour in real-life situations, when users’ daily activities could see them face a risk of Covid-19 infection.
The 10,000 volunteers will be tasked with testing the mobile app for user-friendliness for 10 days.
“This way the roll-out happens step by step and we can get rid of any teething problems and improve the use of the app,” said Karine Moykens, the coordinator of Beligum’s Testing and Tracing strategy at a federal level.
The app, named Coronalert, will aim to boost, rather than replace, the contact tracing efforts set up in all three regions of Belgium, with Moykens saying that the more people use it, the better it can detect and trace high-risk contacts.
Earlier this week, Moykens said that officials were aiming to release the app to the general public by the week of 28 September.
Belgium was planning to launch the second pilot phase of the app a week earlier but pushed it back as it waited for an opinion from the European Union.
Moykens said that it was important for Belgium to integrate the advice of the EU in the development and launch of its app, since it would make EU-wide cooperation easier in the future, namely by enabling the app’s use outside of Belgium and potential interaction with other countries’ tracing apps.
Coronavirus tracing apps have already been launched and are used by millions in the EU including in the Netherlands, Estonia, Italy, Ireland, Germany, Spain, Poland and Switzerland, as well as in Scotland and Northern Ireland.