Polish Government Has Created a Covid-19 Contact Tracing App

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With the beginning of the week, Poland entered the second stage of “defrosting” the economy. Shopping malls are now open but with restrictions similar to those in grocery stores. One person per 15m2 of retail space (common areas are not included) and employees have to count the entering clients. 

Initially, some Polish media shared that ProteGO Safe, an application created by the government, will allow stores to let 10% more customers inside if those customers have installed the app. But as ITKeyMedia confirmed today, it’s false. Neither customers nor retailers get any privileges from the app installation.

‘Currently, installing the ProteGO Safe application does not bring benefits for consumers and store owners,’ the Department of Communication at the Ministry of Digitalization replied. ‘On our website, you will find the correction of false information about the alleged dependence of the entrance to stores from the use of our application.’    

Nevertheless, the more Poles install the app, the more of us will be able to check live whether we had a contact with a person that had COVID-19. 

Unlike the Home Quarantine application, which was mandatory for those in quarantine, ProteGO Safe software is optional. However, the Ministry of Health encourages citizens to install it to help control and inhibit the spread of coronavirus. 

How does it work?

After installing the app on your smartphone, you register with the phone number, turn on Bluetooth and that’s it. After that, your smartphone will record data about all other smartphones you go by, and when someone indicates to be sick with the virus, everyone with whom that smartphone has been in contact will be informed about the infection. The Ministry of Health ensures that the app won’t expose the patient’s name, just the fact itself.

ProteGO Safe reportedly has two main functions. 

  1. To give an opportunity to self-monitor our health thanks to the Health Diary where you can save information on a regular basis about how you feel. In case of any health issues, you will receive advice on how to act. Also, the tool can be helpful for doctors, providing them with information on the development of symptoms and concomitant diseases or medications taken. 
  2. By using Bluetooth technology to collect information about the devices we encountered to inform about the potential risk of coronavirus infection.

The Ministry of Digitalization insists that the more people will use it, the faster and more effectively we will stop the coronavirus spread. 

‘The success of ProteGO Safe depends on the number of its users, which is why we do everything to gain their trust,’ says Minister of Digitization Marek Zagórski.

Protecting democracy

Last week, in Polish media, there were some hot controversial discussions about the app collecting personal data.

On April 30, the Ministry of Digitalization denied such allegations and published a post. We are sharing the most essential part of the post.

‘The facts are these:

  • Regardless of whether you install the ProteGO Safe application or not, you will be able to enter a store.
  • The application does not collect your data, does not track it, its use is voluntary, and we work on it fully transparent – just to let everyone see that we have no hidden intentions. 
  • We will not divide customers into better and worse ones, that is those with and without the installed app. Controlling the status of the app by shop owners, or requiring its installation and activation is prohibited.
  • Using or not using the app must not affect the quality or order of customer service.
  • We will encourage the largest possible number of people to use ProteGO Safe – it is for our common safety and health,’ the Ministry of Digitalization stated. 

 

At the same time, the government encourages specialists, if they wish, to suggest their ideas for the app improvement. 

The application can be downloaded for free from Google Play and App Store.

We think this is not an obvious issue and is rather a controversial one no matter the immediate necessities. We’d love to hear your comments on such apps to be introduced by a government: opinion@itkey.media 

 

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Polish Government Has Created a Covid-19 Contact Tracing App