App, much like its many siblings in other countries, uses Apple's and Google's joint API that was created to track and trace novel coronavirus infections and alert about them.
App requires no registration or login details whatsoever and its privacy details were audited (link in Finnish) by Finland's National Cyber Security Centre, which found no privacy problems with the app.
App is anonymous and it wont pass any identifiable details of the user to the authorities, as its purpose is simply to alert the user if there user has been in close contact with a person who has COVID-19 infection.
How does it technically work?
To put it simply: through Bluetooth.
App doesn't use GPS or any other location data, but relies on close proximity of other Bluetooth devices.
Basically the app generates a random string for each device and distributes that data through Bluetooth data to other devices that have the same app installed - and vice versa. This random value is recreated every few hours to ensure privacy.
Now, the random numbers are then passed to a server, alongside with data of random device IDs nearby. That data is then cleared from the phone after 21 days or when the app is uninstalled.
App relies of global API that was designed specifically for this purpose by Google and Apple. Android devices running Android 6 or above and iPhones running iOS 13.5 or above are supported. Android devices not having Google Play Services installed can't use the app (which, in Finland, basically means new Huawei and Honor phones).
Well, how does it work in real life?
Basically, the app keep track of other devices that were less than 2 meters (appx. 6 feet) apart, for more than 15 minutes.
App has exactly two features:
- User can report that he/she has coronavirus symptoms by tapping a menu item dedicated for this purpose. This will inform other devices.
- User can receive alerts about possible
COVID-19 case that he/she has been in close proximity to, for more than 15 minutes. This happens if any of the devices tracked by person's phone informs about possible COVID-19 infection.
It is left to the person's own responsibility to then seek for COVID-19 testing and possible treatment, if he/she gets an alert through the app. Similarly, it is up to the app's user to report his/her novel coronavirus infection through the app.
THL (Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare) is behind the app and it is government mandated app. THL hopes to get more than one million users for the app by end of September. Finland has population of appx. 5.5 million people.
App can be downloaded from Apple's App Store and Google's Play Store:
Koronavilkku for iOS
Koronavulkku for Android
App is currently available in Finnish and Swedish, but is expected to launch in English, too.
Written by: Petteri Pyyny @ 31 Aug 2020 9:44