Recent studies reveal that countries are keen on the idea of adopting a Coronavirus App to battle the disease spread. Yet, it seems that some are more capable of adopting such applications than others.
Unlike Germany and France, who have already launched their digital platforms, the United Kingdom has scrapped its plans of building a Covid-19 App.
A recent article has followed the entire process of development, promises and the eventual jettison of the British App development process. The blog piece reveals the issues the UK faced, all along with the reasons why the particular plan has led to a dismal failure.
The social issues
As with many other Аpps that popped up at the peak of a certain trend and aimed at servicing it, the Covid-19 mobile application relied more on good intentions rather than on real-world problem-solving.
As stated in the article, the engagement with the Аpp was lacking comfort. Citizens should switch on their Bluetooth, then place the device right next to another one and only then start a social activity. Although it sounds simple at first, such an implementation is bound to uncomfortable mobile device usage.
Such a mobile application can bring more stress than what is considered healthy. Imagine a technical mistake delivers the wrong message to users or there is a massive shut down. These issues will impact the psychological health of users. It is highly likely that at a certain point people will start to associate their devices with the Corona spread. Imagine a situation in which people feel a bit of panic every time they take a look at their mobile phone.
The political issues
As with many governments around the globe, the UK cabinet devised a faceted plan to fight the pandemic. The digital technologies took a big role in this setup. In fact, to the point, that the biggest names in the technological business took participation. Yet, the government wasn’t able to bring the massive idea into existence. There are fine reasons for this failure.
To begin with, there were many technical issues on what kind of systems should be used. Such topics include reliability, safety and security of the platform. Then there were the personal data distribution and ethical issues.
We won’t even be commenting on the financial side of the topic. Only think about the numerous political disputes about how the country should distribute the budget.
PM and his colleagues were also reluctant to share the release date. IN fact, there was a lack of any more detailed information. Their announcements devolved from precise and confident plans and solutions to vague and uncertain explanations. This has brought even more uncertainty and mistrust within the governing institutions.
Such behaviour brings uncertainty whether adding a Coronavirus App to the battlefield arsenal is a good idea. Quite unfortunately, all doubts and fears came to life – the government has scrapped the entire digital project.
The technical issues
First of all, there’s the scale of the project. To be effective and provide adequate information to all parties on time, the majority of people in the country should use the Coronavirus App. This means millions of citizen at the same time. We know that tech giants are releasing digital products which customers download by millions every day. However, it is still a dismal challenge to tailor and distribute such a platform nationwide.
Despite the government has taken this fact under consideration as many more were, it seems that there are still some major flaws.
The first issue is which system of data distribution society should use – a centralised or a decentralised one. Both methods feature many benefits and both also have flaws in their performance. The decentralised method is convenient because of its reliable data distribution and enhanced security. On the other hand, specialists who delve into processing large quantities of data and store everything in one place, prefer the centralised method. It is also apparent that the choice of a system would spark off countless disputes on different levels – social, political, technical.
Second, there are a lot of issues with the adoption of devices from different brands. Apple customers can’t use the NHS version due to issues with compatibility. As stated in the article, it fails to connect with 96 per cent of the users with iPhones. Such a matter outlines a fundamental error in the development plan of the NHS version of the Coronavirus App. It is not compatible with the world’s most popular mobile phone device.
Third, there are concerns on whether the NHS should maintain a database with all the millions of files with sensitive data. Even experts claim that the organisation hasn’t lived up to the promises for security and disclosure agreements through the decades. Customers are also concerned whether the centralised method, adopted by a government institution, is a workable solution for storing their health info. Especially in the era of Blockchain technologies and other decentralised systems.
Fourth, if developers fail to provide a compatible App for the world’s most popular mobile device, it is quite likely that they are also not capable of offering а safe distribution of information. They will also not secure the flaws of malicious attacks and hacker activities. Also, the NHS App will likely showcase flaws both with the user experience and the performance of the Back-End processes that maintain the entire digital infrastructure alive.
Such concerns are prevalent among citizens. It is highly likely that many of them would focus on following conventional measures rather than delving into a faulty digital solution.
The UK government has failed to deliver against its promises. The Coronavirus App project has been completely scrapped, unlike elsewhere – Germany and France, for example.
Building such a digital system is still an ambitious project, especially when the political institutions are involved in the development plan. Although the UK has failed on its first attempt, it is quite likely that the government will undertake new actions towards adopting such digital platforms.
We are eager to find out whether there will be a switch to the decentralised method. Also, we are impatient to know whether the leaders in the digital world will be involved in the project!
Stick with us for further details!