Technology New world. A new version of StopCovid, “more interactive”, will be launched on October 22

New world. A new version of StopCovid, “more interactive”, will be launched on October 22

The StopCovid app was launched on June 2, 2020. (THOMAS SAMSON / AFP)

Prime Minister Jean Castex announced it on Monday 12 October on franceinfo: a new version of the contact tracking application will be launched on the 22 October. It will have to make people forget the weaknesses of the current application.

Launched on 2 June 2020 to support deconfinement, StopCovid failed to convince. This application for detecting interactions between users, via Bluetooth, to detect possible contamination, is imperfect and above all insufficiently used. The app, which is not mandatory, has only been installed 2.6 million times. In comparison, the equivalent applications from Great Britain and Germany were downloaded, respectively, 16 and 18 million times. Even if we do not know if these applications really work better, they have in any case been adopted much more massively by the population.

The government will detail the 22 October this new version. It would be, a priori, a big update of the current application. According to our colleagues from Europe 1, it could change its name and be called, not “TéléCovid”, as the Prime Minister mistakenly said this morning, but “Covid alert”. The question is not yet completely decided because “Covid alert” is the name of the Canadian application, so there could be a risk of confusion.

Technically, no change to be expected. The application will always operate according to the centralized anonymized data system, designed by INRIA. Conversely, the British and German versions work with the decentralized protocol of Apple and Google, which France refuses to use for the sake of digital sovereignty. However, the contact time taken into account could be lowered to 5 minutes, instead of the current 15. For this, Public Health France must consider this reconfiguration justified.

The application could also be used by public authorities, to disseminate information on Covid-19. On the ministry side, we are talking about making the application “more dynamic and more interactive”. Currently, except in the event of contamination, the application is particularly silent once it is installed and activated, which makes it almost invisible. Finally, there would be QR code at the entrance to shops (bars, restaurants, sports halls, shops, etc.) to encourage customers to download the application. This could prevent cafetiers and restaurateurs from having to write down customer details themselves, as is currently the case. The installation of the application would remain optional.

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