In normal times, government software applications take an average of two years from the first idea to their practical use. Nobody can wait that long in times of the corona pandemic. Preparations for a stop corona app are now picking up speed.
Berlin (dpa) - The federal government's plans for tracking corona infection chains by mobile phone are now becoming concrete.
In the Julius Leber barracks in Berlin, according to the Bundeswehr, around 50 soldiers are taking part in a first large practical test for an application by the Fraunhofer Institute to track possible corona infections.
The rapid availability of such a technique is seen as a way to slow the spread of Covid-19 lung disease when there will be some relaxation of current public restrictions. Among other things, it is about being able to use the corona tests that are only available in limited quantities.
The government is looking "with high pressure" together with the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for a solution that could work for Germany, said deputy government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer. It is important that this app would work across borders in Europe.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Health said tracking contacts of people with corona infection is "digitally easier than when someone starts talking on the phone to the health department." In addition, an infected person cannot know how to contact someone who was sitting next to him on the bus, added Demmer.
"The course of this calibration consists of several phases, in which there are initially two people in a certain, defined area," said the Bundeswehr on the test. "The number of people is gradually increased over time and then gradually reduced again after reaching a defined target size."
The soldiers must be at certain points as test subjects, for a certain period of time, or move to another point. The test cycles take place on the barracks in buildings and outdoors. "Of course, the safety and health of the participants is of the utmost importance and everyone is equipped with the necessary protective equipment," it said. In addition to other institutions, the Robert Koch Institute is also involved in the development of the technology.
Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn (CDU) originally planned to allow the health authorities in an "epidemic situation of national scope" to identify contact persons for sick people using cell phone location data. After fierce criticism from the opposition, but also from the SPD, Spahn initially postponed these plans.
However, political support from all parties represented in the Bundestag is available for an app that citizens could install voluntarily and that anonymously warns them anonymously without disclosing names or location data if they have come into contact with a confirmed infected person. The Federal Data Protection Officer Ulrich Kelber (SPD) also thinks this is a viable option.
According to the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute, the test is about an anonymous approach to contact tracking, "which is in full compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation and can also be used when traveling between countries via an anonymous, cross-border exchange mechanism". Personal data or locations would neither be saved nor transferred.
Federal Minister of Labor Hubertus Heil (SPD) told the "Rheinische Post" (Thursday): "Since the focus is on protecting the health of citizens, I will of course also voluntarily hand over my cell phone movement data if a tracking or tracing app is on my cell phone this allows." He sees no data protection problems with the system that is now being tested.