the application that “didn’t work” gets a makeover

StopCovid “Is not a failure, but it did not work”, admitted Emmanuel Macron in yet another televised address. The president therefore announced the arrival of a new version of the coronavirus tracing application. Called Tous Anti-Covid, this major overhaul brings several new features to convince the French to install the application on their smartphone.

Last June, StopCovid, the contact tracing application developed by the French government, made its debut on the Apple App Store and on the Google Play Store. Since its launch, the tracking application has not been installed by 2.6 million French people.

Worse, StopCovid only sent 472 notifications to potential contact cases. An annoying score given the cost of hosting and monthly development of StopCovid which is around 100,000 euros. For the application to work, sick users must register in StopCovid using a code provided by the doctor or the screening laboratory.

Macron admits StopCovid “didn’t work”

By the admission of Jean Castex, the new Prime Minister, StopCovid is a fiasco and “did not get the results we hoped for ”. For his part, Cédric O, the Secretary of State for Digital Transition and Electronic Communications, believes that the French have not fully understood the usefulness of the tracking application. During a new speech, Emmanuel Macron himself conceded in half-words the sinking of the project. “It wasn’t a failure but it didn’t work” tempers Emmanuel Macron.

At first, the President of the Republic admitted that StopCovid was very less downloaded than similar tracking apps developed by other European countries. For example, UK government tracing apps including Protect Scotland and NHS Covid 19 have been downloaded by 16 million users. Corona-Warn-App, the application developed by Germany, has been installed by 20 million Germans. As a reminder, these popular tracking apps rely on the Exposure Notification API from Apple and Google, which is not the case with StopCovid. The French application uses the Robert protocol designed by INRIA.

News from Tous Anti-Covid

Aware of the limits of StopCovid, Emmanuel Macron decided to correct the situation. From October 22, 2020, the application will become “Tous Anti-Covid”. This name change is accompanied by a major overhaul of the interface and the way the application works. However, the technical foundations of the solution remain the same. So this is only an update.

Unlike StopCovid, Tous Anti-Covid will offer an alert and information portal related to the coronavirus. “It will be an application where there will be information: how the virus circulates, where you are, where are the points to be tested. So there will be general information, more specific and local information ” explains Emmanuel Macron.

Depending on your location (entered manually), Tous Anti-Covid will provide figures concerning the penetration rate of the coronavirus in your city or in your department. CoronAlert, the Belgian tracking app, already works on this model. Thanks to this approach, the application was installed by 15% of the Belgian population in less than a month. This new portal obviously aims to convince the French to install Tous Anti-Covid by adding added value.

Moreover, the operation of the contact tracing remains identical to that of StopCovid. The Head of State nevertheless announced the arrival ofclearer instructions which will encourage the French to activate the application when they are the most exposed: bars, restaurants, metro, family reunions … Henceforth, it will therefore be possible to manually activate the application in order to avoid ruining the autonomy of older smartphones. “Our fellow citizens did not know how to use it, some said it drained their phone battery” underlines Macron.

Finally, the government wants to make Tous Anti-Covid ” a tool to better alert, trace and “identify the sources of contamination, trace them and prevent” in partnership with cafetiers and restaurateurs. Inspired by the British model, the Elysée will ask tenants to place a QR Code at the entrance of their establishments. The user will then be prompted to scan the code. The application will record the user’s passage time. If a person present at the same time in the establishment tests positive, Tous Anti-Covid will inform you in a notification.

On the same subject: StopCovid does not ask for any personal data, assure its designers

The State doubles the monthly budget of the application

To develop this new version of the application, the government has decided to separate from CapGemini company, in charge of the development of StopCovid. The State will launch a call for tenders in order to select a new partner.

Finally, despite criticism, the government will also double the monthly limit on enforcement spending. From now on, France will invest 200,000 euros every month, recently announced Cédric O. Despite the failure of the vast majority of tracking applications, Can Tous Anti-Covid really end up making a difference? We await your opinion in the comments below.

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