In a speech at the first meeting between health experts and politicians since 8 July, José Manuel Mendonça, who through INESC TEC led the project to develop the mobile phone application, highlighted the support of the Portuguese in this initial phase, but called for a growth in the number of users for greater effectiveness in combating the Covid-19 pandemic in Portugal.
The doubts raised during the development process of ‘StayAway Covid’ about data protection were also dismissed by the chairman of the board of INESC TEC, who considered the app “very secure”.
“There is no personal data involved, there is complete anonymity of who is warned of a potential dangerous contact - the infected person does not know who has infected them. Nobody knows who is infected except the health authorities,” he said, adding: “This is not an ‘app’, it is a complex system. A social network, if you will”.
While theorising about the emergence of a future global ‘app’ for Covid-19 or other diseases, as well as the emergence of specific sensors using ‘Bluetooth’ as a form of contact tracing technology, José Manuel Mendonça noted that “Portugal was the ninth country to adopt a decentralised model” in dealing with information, describing it as “the safest in data protection” for users.
The ‘StayAway Covid’ app was launched by Prime Minister António Costa and makes it possible to quickly and anonymously track, through physical proximity between ‘smartphones’, the networks of contagion by Covid-19, informing users who have, in the last 14 days, been in the same space as someone infected with coronavirus. Installation of the app remains voluntary.