Germany’s app to help trace coronavirus infections has been downloaded 6.5m times within the first 24 hours since its launch.
Chief executive of software giant SAP Christian Klein today said he viewed the promising figures as a sign of a job well done, following a collaborative effort between SAP and Deutsche Telekom to develop the app in just six weeks.
The Corona-Warn-App, like similar apps used in Italy, Latvia and Poland, uses Bluetooth to measure contact between people and issue a warning should one of them later test positive for Covid-19.
Though the efficacy of contact tracing apps remains untested, governments have been pushing them into development in the interest of achieving a digital type of so-called herd immunity.
The app records events where both users are at risk of contamination, meaning spending 15 minutes within 2m distance of each other.
Most of Europe’s apps are based on technology developed by Apple and Google, which securely logs and anonymises data.
Germany’s app debut follows a disastrous start for a contact tracing tool in Norway, which yesterday forced the country’s health department to delete all data gathered and suspend use of the app.
The Norwegian data regulator ruled the Smittestop app presented an intrusion on user privacy. Norway is now considering switching to Apple and Google’s model.
Alongside recording risk events, Smittestop collected location data to encourage those at risk of contracting Covid-19 to self-isolate for 14 days. The regulator said officials had yet to prove it was necessary for location data to be collected.
Elsewhere Moscow’s contact tracing app has been experiencing technical glitches, with several users telling the Financial Times they had been hit with unexpected fines for alleged quarantine violations.
The Russian government made it mandatory for all Muscovites with respiratory diseases to download the app, having rushed to develop the tool in a matter of weeks. One user told the newspaper she was fined the equivalent of two-thirds of her monthly salary for 14 separate violations, despite only leaving the house once for a visit to her GP.
In the UK, a second phase of rolling out the NHS Covid-19 app was delayed last week by the Department of Health following a trial launched on the Isle of Wight six weeks ago.
Very little information has been released about the UK’s app, aside from that it is not based on the Apple and Google model.