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Radar Covid app: how to download the application on Android and iOS mobiles

The official application for tracking the Coronavirus in Spain is now available for you to download. But what about your data?

Radar Covid app: how to download the application on Android and iOS mobiles

As long as there is no official vaccine – although the Russians already have one apparently – the risk of contagion by Covid-19 is out there, present and still active. The best weapon is prevention and preventing it from happening, but also the ability to track and trace if it happens. The role of trackers is essential to detect outbreaks and prevent their spread, and Technology helps them with Coronavirus tracking applications.

Coronavirus Contact Notification API

Both Google and Apple wanted to help governments and health agencies reduce the spread of the virus, so they announced in early April the creation of a system to track the spread of the Coronavirus. A system that allows users to share data through BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) transmissions and official apps from public health organizations such as the WHO. And always “ fully respecting the privacy and security of users”.

In late May, Google and Apple launched their joint coronavirus contact notification API via Bluetooth. This is a tool compatible with both systems that can be used by applications developed by health institutions around the world, in order to track the progress of COVID-19.

The problem was that until a few weeks ago, these APIs had no use whatsoever because the Ministry of Health, which is the one who has the jurisdiction in the field of official applications on COVID-19, had not yet created anything. Something that ended, because we can now officially download the Spanish application against the Coronavirus.

RADAR Covid App

What is COVID Radar

Radar COVID is an official application for mobile devices to alert of SARS-CoV-2 virus infections, which after a test phase in La Gomera that ended on July 31, has been officially activated for any user with an Android mobile or iOS can download and use it. In fact, ” the app is ready so that the health authorities can allow its adoption by the Autonomous Communities in order to begin connection work with their systems.”

Those users who have downloaded the application and accept its use will receive a notification in the event that in the 14 days prior to that notification they have been exposed to an epidemiological contact (less than 2 meters and more than 15 minutes) with another user ( totally anonymous) that has declared in the application to have given a positive result in the COVID 19 test, after accreditation by the health authorities.

The application will inform you exclusively about the day (within the previous fourteen) on which the contact exposure occurred, but not about the identity of the user to whom it has been exposed – impossible information as it is an application that does not request, uses nor does it store personal data of the users-, nor the identification of the device of this, nor about the time or place in which the exposure occurred. Once a notification has been received, the application will provide you with information for the adoption of preventive and assistance measures, in order to help contain the spread of the virus.

But be careful, because each autonomous community in Spain must activate it in their protocols , and until all have done so – they have a maximum deadline of September 15 – , Radar COVID will not be fully operational throughout the Spanish territory. However, the success in the La Gomera test demonstrates the effectiveness of the app, which manages to double the data obtained (by hand) by official trackers and also avoid the dreaded ‘false positives’ that slow down the process.


How Radar COVID App works

Once you have downloaded the application, accept the conditions of use and the privacy policy and start using it, your mobile will generate a pseudo-random identifier called ‘temporary exposure key’ with a size of 16 characters (16 bytes or 128 bits) that will serve to derive the ‘Bluetooth ephemeral identifiers’, keys that are exchanged with other nearby mobile phones that also have the RadarCOVID application downloaded.

Bluetooth ephemeral identifiers are pseudo-random codes generated by your smartphone every 10-20 minutes, based on the daily temporary exposure key. These codes do not contain personal information, which allows to identify the mobile phone or the user of the same. These codes are transmitted several times per second to nearby devices, accessible through Bluetooth Low Energy, producing “an exchange of random codes between devices so that they can be stored by nearby phones that have downloaded the application “.

Similarly, every 5 minutes your terminal will ‘listen’ to the ephemeral Bluetooth identifiers that are transmitted by other mobiles that have the app and will store them to calculate if you have been with another user infected with COVID-19 over the last 14 days . Remember that these keys are randomly generated and do not serve to identify your mobile phone or its user.

What happens if I receive a positive diagnosis?

If you have received a positive diagnosis for COVID-19, you can voluntarily enter the ‘single-use confirmation code’ in the application that will be provided by your Public Health Service – although the autonomous community in which you live must have activated the protocol first on their systems – and that “it will be validated on our server” . At that moment, the application will request your consent to ” send the last 14 temporary exhibition keys stored on your phone to our server.”

If you lend it, these will be sent to the application server which, after verifying the accuracy of the code, will be used to compose a daily list of temporary exposure codes of people infected by COVID-19 that are downloaded daily from the server by all the Radar COVID applications that are running, thus helping to more effectively track possible outbreaks and infections.

The information in these lists serves so that on your own phone you can check if you have had close contact (less than two meters and more than 15 minutes) with people who have reported a COVID-19 infection, without identifying the person, neither the place of the exhibition, nor the mobile device, nor any personal data of you or the other person. These keys sent to the server do not allow the direct identification of users and are necessary to guarantee the correct functioning of the contagion alert system

Who has access to my user data?

As we see in the privacy policy of the app, the government places emphasis on making it clear that the Radar Covid app is not going to spy on anyone, nor will it take advantage of this GPS data to track the movements of any user, ” thus excluding any form geolocation ” . But the important thing, who has access to the user data that the application collects? The official answer is that:

” Neither the” Radar COVID “application nor the contagion alert server store personal data of any kind . The data managed by the mobile application (daily temporary exposure codes and Bluetooth ephemeral identifiers) are stored only on the user’s device for the purpose of being able to make calculations and derive reports to the USER about their risk of exposure to COVID-19.

Only in the case of reporting a positive diagnosis for COVID-19, the temporary exposure keys of the last 14 days generated in the device, and under the explicit and unequivocal consent of the USER, are uploaded to the server for dissemination to all USERS of this system. These keys do not bear any relation with the identity of the mobile devices or with the personal data of the USERS of the Application “.