Italy is planning to use a smartphone application designed by tech start-up Bending Spoons to track individuals who test positive for the novel coronavirus as part of efforts to end its nationwide lockdown.
The primary epicentre of the virus outbreak in Europe, Italy holds the world’s highest coronavirus death toll with more than 22,000 fatalities, and maybe still more to come.
Although the Italian government last week prolonged the national lockdown until May 3, it is searching for ways of loosening the draconian limitations imposed more than a month ago to stop the pandemic.
Italy tests virus-tracing App to lift the lockdown swiftly
Domenico Arcuri, the Italian government’s special commissioner for the COVID-19 emergency, told state broadcaster RAI late on Thursday, “We are working to test a contact-tracing app in some Italian regions,”.
The smartphone applications and other technologies have been widely used in Asian countries like Singapore and South Korea to help rein in contagion, but there have been deep doubts in Europe over the potential for data abuse and other privacy violations.
Furthermore, Arcuri said the purpose is to make the application available to the whole country after the regional testing.
“It will be a pillar of our strategy to deal with the post-emergency phase,” said Arcuri.
Italy’s Innovation Ministry began a tender previous month for app developers volunteering their services to the country. It has received hundreds of proposals, from which a special committee chose the Bending Spoons product, a proclamation from the special commissioner showed.
Italy based Bending Spoons, which designs apps ranging from fitness to video-editing tools, is part of the Pan-European Privacy-Preserving Proximity Tracing initiative. PEPP-PT is developing a European platform to support national contact-tracing apps ‘talk’ to each other across borders.
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The Bending Spoons app, initially named Immuni, uses the Bluetooth technology to record when users are in close proximity with each other.