Finland has finally launched Koronavilkku, its much-heralded app for tracking coronavirus infections via mobile phones.
The app, produced by Solita Oy for the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), works in a similar way to those launched in recent weeks by other countries. Basically, it helps to track contacts at risk of infection by using the cell phone's bluetooth system.
The app can be downloaded from the the Google Play and App Store. From 31 August it is available for download in Finnish and Swedish, but not yet in English. According to the health agency, "an English version will be available later."
How it works
The app assigns a random code to each phone. Authorities say those codes contain no personal information about the users' identities or their devices. Contact information is also not stored, according to THL.
When close enough to each other, the apps swap codes through a Bluetooth signal. Location data are collected from other users staying within a two-metre proximity for at least 15 minutes, which are the parameters of exposure to the virus set for its operation.
The Finnish app retains the codes for 21 days before automatically deleting them. In some other countries, codes are held for 14 days.
If someone reports that they have tested positive for Covid-19, all users who have been in contact with them will receive an alert of possible exposure.
In case of infection
Users who have been diagnosed with coronavirus will get a key code from the doctor or the health service. By typing the code into the app, users anonymously alert other Koronavilkku app users who have been near them about possible exposure.
The app will also provide those who receive an alert of potential exposure with further instructions on what to do. Koronavilkku can also be used to make a symptom assessment through the Omaolo health check service.
Downloading the app is not mandatory, but voluntary. People can stop using it simply by deleting it from their phones. Health authorities expect a million people to download Koronavilkku in Finland during the first month of use.