June 23, 2020 / 5:51 PM / a month ago

Spain to trial coronavirus tracing app on Canary Island

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain will try out a new smartphone app aimed at thwarting the spread of the coronavirus by injecting hundreds of false cases into the system in a test run starting on Friday on the Canary Island of Gomera.

FILE PHOTO: A commuter waits at a metro platform, as Spain lifted the state of emergency after the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown, in Madrid, Spain, June 22, 2020. REUTERS/Susana Vera/File Photo

The simulation is part of a system intended to send an alert when one user has been in contact with another who receives a postive diagnosis, the government said.

“The idea is that approximately 3,000 people download it and we will introduce around 300 simulators, beta testers, to mimic a pandemic among 10% of the population,” a government spokeswoman said.

It will use Bluetooth short-range radio to log contacts.

To guard against impinging on people’s privacy, contact records will be stored on individual devices rather than a central server, using a standard developed by Apple and Google.

The trial will start on Friday and continue for two weeks, a period the government hopes will be enough to prove whether the app could be rolled out across the country.

Technology and defence company Indra has been contracted to manage the pilot at a cost of about $375,000.

Gomera is home to about 22,000 residents near the tourist hotspot of Tenerife.

More than 28,000 people have died in the coronavirus pandemic in Spain, but the situation has eased and the country is emerging from a strict lockdown.

The government is anxious to get the tourist industry, a mainstay of the economy, back on its feet and the Canary Islands are a popular destination. They had 2,398 confirmed coronavirus cases out of a national total of 245,268 as of June 18.

Reporting by Isla Binnie, editing by Andrei Khalip and Angus MacSwan

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