Massive testing of the STAYAWAY COVID app still does not integrate with medical systems

Massive testing of the STAYAWAY COVID app still does not integrate with medical systems

The massive test of the application, which starts this week, will not yet have the component of integration with medical systems. In a TSF interview, Jos Manuel Mendona, president of INESC TEC, explained in detail the operation of the application and the steps that have yet to be taken until the app is available for download, which he hopes will happen by the end of the month.

In the past few months, the INESC TEC development team has worked with project partners, the Government and Google and Apple to develop the STAYAWAY COVID app, a contact tracking application that should allow the identification of transmission chains for the new coronavirus . The app installed on smartphones will collect anonymized information from other nearby phones, in contacts considered to be at risk that correspond to a distance of less than 2 meters for 30 minutes, and if one of these people is tested positive, COVID will receive an alert to do the test.

Aapp STAYAWAY COVID should have been ready in late May, then June, but the application that aims to help break contention chains for COVID-19 has faced some issues that go beyond application development, such as integration with health systems , the installation of secure servers, the approval of data protection and even the legislative authorization that must be approved today by the Council of Ministers.

At the beginning of the week, Rui Oliveira, from INESC TEC, who is leading the consortium that is developing the app STAYAWAY COVID, stated that "it will not be for technical reasons that the app will not be ready yet in July. After being in the hands of the minister"

This test that starts tomorrow aims to understand the behavior of the system in the face of massive use of users and will not involve integration with doctors, nor warnings of real situations of contention with COVID-19.Jos Manuel Mendona stressed that for the time being a technical test.

It was also known that, for now, the app is still only approved by Google, but Apple's validation should happen soon, as stated by the president of INESC TEC.

Missing permissions for the STAYAWAY COVID app go ahead

ACNPD assessed the data protection impact assessment report and says that there are still elements that need more detail. But there are even more steps to guarantee before launching the app, which should be the "official" contact tracking application in Portugal.

The legislation that defines technical procedures has to be approved and must go to the Council of Ministers today. It is also necessary that the server that will be installed in the Shared Services of the Ministry of Health be integrated with the authentication system used by doctors, in order to ensure that the information is under reservation. A second server is already installed at the National Press Casa da Moeda, a "high security, ISO-27001" machine.

It should be remembered that integration with the validation of medical personnel is important to ensure that the cases identified as COVID-19 positive are real and not false positives.

Integration, scalability, availability and security tests are still lacking, as well as the interoperability between STAYAWAY and the eHealth Network, shared by European countries.

Only after all these steps have been completed can the official launch of the application be scheduled.

Worldwide, several contact tracking applications already exist, although not all based on the Google and Apple APIs that are used in STAYAWAY COVID. Also in Europe, Germany, Sweden and Italy are making applications available.

Amnesty International made an assessment of 11 contact tracking apps and identified several risks for privacy and security. Although it was not evaluated by the organization's laboratories, the Portuguese app was considered among the least dangerous groups for using the Google and Apple APIs.