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Monday, 4 May 2020

Day 49 of self-isolation - tracing the Isle of Wight

Tracing the Isle of Wight

The government has announce a tracing app, and a trial for this in the Isle of Wight next week.

The idea is, we can ease the lock down if we can handle a small outbreak of infections by tracing the infected people, and testing everyone they cam in contact with.

No-one has tried this in the West. Will it work?

First, you need a reliable test for infection. As we have seen in a previous blog, some tests are more reliable than others.

Second, you need an app that works, passing any changes in location via the internet to a centralised server. And that server has to have sufficient capacity to receive all this data. The UK government has a poor record on developing major IT projects.

Third, you need to persuade the 80% of adults that own a smartphone, to install the app.
The IoW radio did a poll, and foud that 80% will install the app.

The problem is going to be, partly the oldies who don't have access to the internet via smartphone, and partly the take up of the app. There will be people who can't be bothered, people who have privacy concerns, and people who just didn't hear about the app.

And there's another problem. How does the app know if someone is infected so the tracing can start? People have to report that they have symptoms. So that's another problem - even if they have the app, will they report their symptoms? Will they know what symptoms they should be reporting?

And then, of course, there are the loonies who think that 5G is killing people, or that phones give you cancer, or that all you need is an onion in the room.

I think that a one week trial in the Isle of Wight is going to yield very disappointing results in terms of installs of the app, but that the government will roll it out nationwide anyway.

Because Something Must Be Done. And this is Something, so it Must Be Done.

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