Since the Government made Radar COVID available to the communities, 36,735 citizens over 14 years of age have reported their positive for coronavirus to the Spanish infection tracking app. This communication is carried out through a code provided by the community health services. Since September and October, when the autonomous communities were connecting to the central COVID Radar system (a technological obligation imposed by Google and Apple, which only allow one tracking app to be activated per country to avoid fraud), they have requested a total of 471,566 codes to send to citizens.
VIDEO | This is how ‘Radar COVID’ works, the Spanish app for tracking the coronavirus
The balance is that 7.79% of the personal codes generated so that citizens who have tested positive can notify other users of their contagion have been effectively introduced. The number of alert notifications for risk contact with a positive that Radar COVID distributed among its users based on those codes is unknown, since the data on the contacts that each person has had is only saved in their terminal and does not leave him in no time.
In total, the app has accumulated 6.8 million downloads since its launch. These data on the evolution of the penetration and use of Radar COVID in Spain, unpublished until now, can be consulted in the new “Radar COVID scorecard” launched by the Government, which will be available “shortly” on the official page of the app. The Secretary of State for Digitalization and Artificial Intelligence (SEDIA), Carme Artigas, has been in charge of presenting this tool at the Interterritorial Council of the National Health System held this Thursday, the first for Carolina Darias as Minister of Health.
Counting only the data from the last week, the percentage of codes entered in the app rises to 8.55% (4,757 infections reported to Radar COVID out of 55,663 codes requested by the health services of the autonomous communities). However, these percentages do not represent that more than 90% of the app users are voluntarily deciding not to inform the rest of their positive. The number of total codes offered this Thursday by the Government are those requested from SEDIA by the communities, not the ones that they ended up sending to the active users of the application.
In other words, among the codes generated by SEDIA but not entered in Radar COVID is the percentage of active users who decided not to do so, but also those who were delivered to people who were not users of the application and also those who, for a reason or another, they were sent to the communities but they did not bounce them back to the citizens.
Asturias, the greatest impact
There are notable differences between different communities in terms of the effectiveness of Radar COVID. The region in which the users of the application have entered the highest number of codes in the last month is Madrid, with 3,342. It is followed by Castilla La Mancha (961), the Basque Country (715) and Galicia (657). The figure for Catalonia is only 509, while in Ceuta and Melilla there are none and in Extremadura only 3.
However, the new “Radar COVID scorecard” will show more parameters, such as the ratio between entered codes and confirmed coronavirus cases. “Perhaps the most interesting indicator to assess the degree of adoption of this system in each territory is this ratio”, states the Government in the information note on the new measurement tool: “The Autonomous Communities that are making more intensive use of the application have code introduction rates between 6% and 11%, on the number of confirmed cases, they present a rate similar to that of other European countries. On the other hand, there is a significant number of Autonomous Communities whose ratio is below 2 % “.
The Communities with the highest ratio in this regard are Asturias (11.9%), the Basque Country (9.8%), and Castilla-La Mancha (9.3%). At the bottom is Catalonia, with only 0.7%, followed by Murcia, Andalusia, the Valencian Community or the Canary Islands, with between 0.3 and 0.1%. Extremadura, Ceuta and Melilla are at 0%.
The Government emphasizes that the “degree of dissemination of the application and promotion of use promoted by the autonomous community” is key in these differences between one and the other. This week, Vice President for Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation, Nadia Calviño, urged communities to “give a push” to the distribution of codes among citizens. “It is essential to accelerate the distribution of these codes so that the app can fully deploy its effect and contribute to the tracking work,” he said in a meeting with the regional councilors for Digitization.
The Radar COVID app uses the bluetooth of mobile phones to detect risky contacts with other users, those in which they have been within two meters or less of another person for 15 minutes or less. Most European countries have implemented systems based on this technology and some are already interoperable: Radar COVID can detect risky contacts with people using the apps from Belgium, Finland, Germany, Croatia, Denmark, Ireland, Italy and Latvia .