A project to ensure that coronavirus contact tracing apps work across Europe has hit its first goal: the Scottish contact tracing app – built using the Apple/Google API – now works in Northern Ireland and Jersey.

The shared code is what also enables interoperability between apps used in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware

The Scottish app should also work in England and Wales within the next few weeks, and then across Europe. This is all part of a wider European interoperability project intended to ensure that all contact tracing apps work across the continent.

The app was developed by NearForm, which first created the Irish contact tracing app before rolling out versions for Scotland, Jersey, and the four US states. All the apps share the same core code.

“COVID-19 doesn’t recognise borders and we’re seeing more countries and states collaborate in this effort to provide an additional layer of protection for people travelling between jurisdictions. The app puts the power in people’s hands to protect themselves and others while helping to slow the spread of COVID-19.” NearForm CEO Cian Ó Maidín said on today’s linking of apps between Scotland, Northern Ireland and Jersey.

The Scottish government said that no action is needed by app users.

Those who have downloaded Protect Scotland do not need to do anything for this to work, they simply need to keep the app active while in Northern Ireland and Jersey.

Their phone will be able to connect to the relevant apps in those places and continue to alert users if they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19).

Likewise, if users of Protect Scotland test positive in Scotland, any users of StopCOVID NI or Jersey COVID Alert who have been in close proximity will receive a notification.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said that agreement had already been reached with England.

Agreement has been reached with England and Wales for the NHS Covid-19 app to become compatible in the coming weeks and we are working to ensure Protect Scotland is compatible with other European apps over time.

More than 1.5 million people have downloaded Protect Scotland since it was launched last month and more than 10,000 people have been contacted via the app to let them know they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. This allows people to self-isolate quickly if they have been exposed to the virus, reducing the risk of them infecting others.

The American state-based approach has resulted in what was recently described as ‘a mess.’ Only the four states mentioned have interoperable contact tracing apps, and many still have no app at all.

If you’ve upgraded to an iPhone 12, and restored from an iCloud backup of an earlier model, you may need to re-enable contact tracing notifications.

Photo: Jeshoots on Unsplash

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