Germany is helping the UK develop its COVID-19 contact-tracing app, says ambassador

Deutschland, uber alle allies


Germany is helping the UK develop its new decentralised contact-tracing app, the country's ambassador Andreas Michaelis told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"Our experts are in touch with experts here in the UK, overseen by the two health ministries to see how they can move forward together, shoulder to shoulder," Michaelis said.

Speaking of Germany's own open-source virus-tracing app, which uses the APIs offered by Apple and Google as part of iOS and Android, Michaelis simply said: "It works."

The ambassador also noted it had been downloaded more than 14 million times since it first became available on 16 June, and was the product of €20m in investment.

"If this can help the UK, we'd be very happy," Michaelis added.

Germany's contact-tracing app strategy has mirrored the UK's slightly, starting with a much-criticised centralised approach before pivoting to the decentralised frameworks offered by the two US tech giants.

But when it comes to deployment, Germany is leagues ahead of Britain, having successfully disseminated a working contact-tracing app throughout the population. In contrast, the UK is still months away from a functioning app, having only just ditched the centralised version developed by NHSX in conjunction with US tech giant VMware.

Tests of the centralised app – which reportedly cost £11.8m to develop – on the Isle of Wight demonstrated several fundamental operational flaws, mainly when it came to cross-platform Bluetooth connections between Android and iOS devices.

Compounding these were privacy concerns, with House of Commons Humans Rights Committee chair Harriet Harman expressing worries about a lack of clearly defined governance as to how the data would be handled and used. Source code to the virus-tracing software is now shelved on GitHub, here for iOS and here for Android.

In the interim, the British government has been forced to adopt human-powered contact tracing, with contact centre workers manually identifying possible interactions between members of the public and those infected with the COVID-19 bio-nasty, and urging them to self-isolate. ®


Other stories you might like

  • Robotics and 5G to spur growth of SoC industry – report
    Big OEMs hogging production and COVID causing supply issues

    The system-on-chip (SoC) side of the semiconductor industry is poised for growth between now and 2026, when it's predicted to be worth $6.85 billion, according to an analyst's report. 

    Chances are good that there's an SoC-powered device within arm's reach of you: the tiny integrated circuits contain everything needed for a basic computer, leading to their proliferation in mobile, IoT and smart devices. 

    The report predicting the growth comes from advisory biz Technavio, which looked at a long list of companies in the SoC market. Vendors it analyzed include Apple, Broadcom, Intel, Nvidia, TSMC, Toshiba, and more. The company predicts that much of the growth between now and 2026 will stem primarily from robotics and 5G. 

    Continue reading
  • Deepfake attacks can easily trick live facial recognition systems online
    Plus: Next PyTorch release will support Apple GPUs so devs can train neural networks on their own laptops

    In brief Miscreants can easily steal someone else's identity by tricking live facial recognition software using deepfakes, according to a new report.

    Sensity AI, a startup focused on tackling identity fraud, carried out a series of pretend attacks. Engineers scanned the image of someone from an ID card, and mapped their likeness onto another person's face. Sensity then tested whether they could breach live facial recognition systems by tricking them into believing the pretend attacker is a real user.

    So-called "liveness tests" try to authenticate identities in real-time, relying on images or video streams from cameras like face recognition used to unlock mobile phones, for example. Nine out of ten vendors failed Sensity's live deepfake attacks.

    Continue reading
  • Lonestar plans to put datacenters in the Moon's lava tubes
    How? Founder tells The Register 'Robots… lots of robots'

    Imagine a future where racks of computer servers hum quietly in darkness below the surface of the Moon.

    Here is where some of the most important data is stored, to be left untouched for as long as can be. The idea sounds like something from science-fiction, but one startup that recently emerged from stealth is trying to turn it into a reality. Lonestar Data Holdings has a unique mission unlike any other cloud provider: to build datacenters on the Moon backing up the world's data.

    "It's inconceivable to me that we are keeping our most precious assets, our knowledge and our data, on Earth, where we're setting off bombs and burning things," Christopher Stott, founder and CEO of Lonestar, told The Register. "We need to put our assets in place off our planet, where we can keep it safe."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022