Switzerland pilots a contact tracing app using Apple and Google's tech

Switzerland pilots a contact tracing app using Apple and Google's tech

Employees at EPFL, ETH Zurich, the Army and select hospitals and government agencies will be the first to test the Swiss app. This pilot phase is expected to last a few weeks. In the meantime, Swiss parliament must revise the law on epidemics in order to allow the app to be launched countrywide in mid-June.

Apple and Google made their contact tracing tech available to public health agencies last week. It’s now compatible with iOS 13.5 and Android devices running 6.0 and above. The model uses a “decentralized” approach, in which key operations are carried out on users’ phones, not in a centralized server. That approach is meant to better protect users’ privacy, and according to EPHL, the decentralized “DP3T” protocol was led by two Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology. 

“This gives a great responsibility to the Swiss testers, as many other countries intend to adopt the same protocol later on,” said project manager Alfredo Sanchez.

We know that as many as 22 public health agencies have requested the API, but it’s unclear how many of those will put it to use. Some countries, like Australia, have already launched their own apps. The UK said it would use a centralized approach and began testing an app of its own, but it is reportedly considering a switch to the Apple-Google framework.

“This digital tracing will not replace protective measures, but it is the best way to control the evolution of the epidemic,” said Alain Berset, Federal Councillor at the Swiss Department of Interior.

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