Several European contact tracing apps can now interact with each other
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Several European contact tracing apps can now interact with each other

Coronalert, Belgium's contact tracing app. Credit: Belga

Several European countries’ coronavirus tracing applications can now interact with each other to warn citizens across borders of potential Covid-19 infections.

On Monday, the European Commission launched the “interoperability gateway” developed at European level, which should enable the different national coronavirus tracing and alert applications to operate across borders.

From the outset, three applications were connected to the gateway: one from Germany (Corona-Warn-App), one from Ireland (COVID tracker) and one from Italy (immuni).

Together, these three applications account for the bulk of European users of corona applications: 30 million people have downloaded one of the three, accounting for two-thirds of all application downloads in the EU, according to the European Commission.

The applications detect other nearby users by exchanging anonymised codes. If a person then tests positive, the system is informed of the result and people who have been in close contact with the virus carrier are notified.

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The EU-developed “gateway” aims to make the different national applications interoperable. In practice, not all applications developed by the Member States will be able to use it, at least initially, because it has been designed for a certain type of application, namely those with a decentralised architecture.

Twenty applications are concerned, including that of Belgium and almost all the EU States that already have a functional application.

Among the others, France and Hungary have chosen to develop an app according to a different system.

Next week, applications from the Czech Republic, Denmark, Latvia and Spain should be connected to the gateway. Others will follow in November.

The Brussels Times