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International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Tuesday, 05.07.2022, 06:01

Latvia to be one of first to use Apple and Google software for coronavirus contact-tracing apps

BC, Riga, 21.05.2020.Print version
Latvia will be one of the first countries to use the software tool developed by US tech companies Apple and Google enabling nations to release coronavirus contact-tracing apps, representatives of the companies informed LETA.

The software tool will enable the development of mobile apps using a decentralized approach, which involves saving and analyzing the data of close-distance contacts in the user's mobile devise. Apple and Google have granted access to their new software to 22 countries, including Latvia where a group of IT companies are working on the app Apturi COVID (Stop COVID). Latvia will thus become one of the first countries to use the new tool for combating the spread of the new coronavirus.

Representatives of Apple and Google also stressed that their method increases data privacy and reduces the risk of identifying the user.

Elina Lidere, a spokeswoman for Latvijas Mobilais Telefons (LMT) mobile operator, which is one of the developers of the Latvian app, told LETA that the completion of Apturi COVID app depends on Google and Apple but that LMT is working in closely with both companies and hopes that the new app will be available for downloading already next week. As a result, people in Latvia will be among the first in the world to be able to use the new solution.

The new app could not work without the Apple and Google tool, which is why it is something software developers across the world have been waiting for. We have managed to be among the first to access it, Lidere said. 

As reported, Latvian IT companies are working on a Covid-19 contact tracing application.

The coronavirus contact tracing app will be practical and safe ICT solution, providing significant support to epidemiologists at the Center for Disease Prevention and Control, as it will allow tracking Covid-19 patients' contacts more efficiently. Users will have to install the app in their mobile devices. The app will use the Bluetooth technology to detect other devices within a distance of two meters of the mobile device.

The contact tracing app will use encrypted data exchange to ensure the identity of the contacts detected by the app is not disclosed. A person who becomes infected with the coronavirus will be given a special code which has to be entered into the app to launch the contact tracking mechanism. The app will be saving data for 14 days before automatically deleting them. The Center for Disease Prevention and Control will be the owner of the app.

The private sector companies involved in the development of the Covid-19 contact tracing app include LMT, MakIT, TestDevLab, Zippy, Vision and ITcentrs, as well as Andris Berzins, a co-founder of the nongovernmental organization TechHub Riga.

The academic and public sector representatives supporting work on the app include President Egils Levits and the State Chancellery, the Center for Disease Prevention and Control, the Health Ministry, the Data State Inspectorate, the NATO Strategic Communications Center of Excellence (StratCom) and the University of Latvia.

Digital communication partners include Nord DDB Riga, Deep White, Wrong and Mobilly.

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