Once a cabinet minister made a comparison between the health care system of Ireland with that of Angola. It was during a time when everyone was aware of the terrible healthcare system of Angola. It was declared as a political center of dysfunction, inefficiency, bureaucracy, and waste. The minister tried to portray that the healthcare system of Ireland is as bad as that. However, Ireland seems to have taken the comment quite seriously, and come out stronger. Today, we can see one such example by how they have introduced a successful contact-tracing app.
Ireland is now at the top of the country list that is creating success stories during these sad times. The country has just discovered an extremely efficient and popular control-tracing app. What makes it better is its cost-effectiveness. The launch of the app took place on July 6. Within a week more than 1.3 million people downloaded the app. Breaking every record, this Irish app is now the fastest-downloaded app in Europe per capita. The efficiency is now evident after it has started picking up genuine cases of infection.
According to the technical director of NearForm, Colm Harte, the take-up rate of the app is delightful. NearForm is the company that has developed a fantastic contract-tracing app for the HSE (Health Service Executive). The app works through the Bluetooth feature of a smartphone. Then there is of course the digital handshake function between two phones, where both must have the app. So, when two people come in close contact with each other, say within 2 meters, the contact-tracing happens. However, one constant factor is that both people must stay in interactive mode or at least close to each other for at least 15 minutes.
Irish Contact-Tracing App is highly efficient
There is a set of anonymous keys that comes along with the app during the time of download. So, if you are diagnosed with COVID-19, the health ministry officials will contact you. Moreover, they will also give you instructions on how to activate the anonymous keys. As a result, the people who are in charge of the tracking system will list down every person who came in close contact with you.
Plus, the officials will also inform them about the fact that they came in contact with a person diagnosed positive. So, they may also have to go through a process of proper tests. In his official statement, Harte also spoke about NearForm’s Gibraltar venture. They made a similar app for Gibraltar just a month before the Irish version. Harte says that the core platform is the same for both. However, the main solution is Irish.
There seems no need for any kind of self-deprecation as usual. It means that the contact-tracing app is not one of those typical Irish quixotic or daft fixes. At other times, people always know that every Irish problem has an Irish solution. It is almost like a derisive term used in the country for trial fixes. This time Ireland has come up with a game-changing app not just for the country. The app is a massive contribution to the overseas territories of Britain, and other parts of the UK. On the other hand, the core British government is still floundering in the self-efforts it has made towards the production of an effective contact-tracing app.
The British contact tracing app
The schedule for the launch of the British NHS COVID-19 app was in May 2020. The schedule was later postponed to June and was still rejected by officials. They found that the app is ineffective in its very original form as well. Instead, people in Britain are using similar apps by Google and Apple. However, the government says that a better, more effective, and useful app will be launched during Winter 2020.
A social scientist at University College Dublin and an expert in tracing, Seán L’Estrange has expressed his opinion. According to him, it is not any kind of crowing on behalf of Ireland. The officials were hopeful of launching an app back in March. However, it was not possible to follow the schedule due to several complications. Therefore, the effectiveness of the British NHS COVID-19 app is still unclear. Also, when it launches the same, the mettle of it awaits proper proof.
According to Seán L’Estrange, the reason for the amazing take-up rate of the Irish app is unique. The effectiveness of the app comes with a confident initiative, and the enthusiasm to work for the containment of the virus makes the app better. The price tag of the app is fixed at €850,000 (£773,000) which is so cheap! So, even if the app fails to deliver as per expectation, the makers will lose almost nothing. Therefore, it seems that the Irish medical system can work better during a crisis. Even though there is bloated management, duplication, and turf battles, Ireland has done a commendable job.
More about the developer NearForm
An HSE spokesperson Fran Thompson said that the whole company geared up well and their only focus was coronavirus. The pandemic made it possible for HSE to cut down on its regular process, and finally, they chose NearForm in March. Thompson says that the company saved around two months and a lot of effort during the procedure.
NearForm, on the other hand, is an organization that comprises of around 150 people. They mostly develop software on a contract basis for private clients. They are based out at a council office in the seaside town of County Waterford’s Tramore. Moreover, they also have pedigree across 21 countries with other developers. Their clientele consists of names such as Condé Nast, Microsoft, Intel, and more.
Following the footsteps of Singapore, developers at NearForm started racing to create a centralized app. They wanted to make something that will utilize the Bluetooth feature of a smartphone to trace down people who come in contact. By April, they had already come up with a model. However, there were a few challenges including Bluetooth connectivity and activation. So, now they have launched the final version of the app.