Covid-19 and the ‘Protect Scotland’ app

This post is primarily for Australians because the Protect Scotland app does exactly what our own CovidSafe app was supposed to do… and doesn’t.

A trailer explaining how the app works and what protections it offers

How do we know the Protect Scotland app works?

We know it works because it was developed by Apple and Google [at the 1:00 minute mark] together. This means that the relevant bits of both operating systems that are needed to make the app work, actually talk to each other.

The Australian CovidSafe app failed so spectacularly in the Victorian outbreak because Apple and Android [Google] couldn’t be made to play nice with each other. The media have been silent about this failure, despite the fact that the Federal government’s whole recovery plan post-March was based on the app being able to contact-trace infections without human intervention.

Do I trust Apple and Google to be honest about how much of our privacy they retain? Ordinarily no, not it a month of Sundays. But with this app? I suspect that the rivalry between these two companies is what will ensure that they keep each other honest. After all, if one company manages to sneak something in that gives them a long term financial advantage, that could spell disaster for the other company.

So, if mobile phones can be used to track and trace people infected with Covid-19, then it might just be possible to ‘live with’ the virus. Maybe. Technology aside, though, just because the app alerts people to the fact that they may have been infected, that’s no guarantee that said people will do the right thing and self isolate.

Human nature is the big unknown, and given what we’ve seen conspiracy theorists doing already, I don’t like our chances of getting 100% voluntary compliance. I fear that things will have to get a great deal worse before the knuckleheads acknowledge that there is a problem, and that they are it.

In the meantime? Maybe Australia should buy the Protect Scotland app for those who actually give a flying fruit bat about their fellow human beings.

Meeks
[My thanks to Dr John Campbell for alerting me to the existence of the Protect Scotland app].

About acflory

I am the kind of person who always has to know why things are the way they are so my interests range from genetics and biology to politics and what makes people tick. For fun I play online mmorpgs, read, listen to a music, dance when I get the chance and landscape my rather large block. Work is writing. When a story I am working on is going well I'm on cloud nine. On bad days I go out and dig big holes... View all posts by acflory

30 responses to “Covid-19 and the ‘Protect Scotland’ app

  • CarolCooks2

    From my understanding, the app isn’t great in the Uk…the one here works fine without Apple or Google just hospitals, government and other investors…like NZ people scan the QR code on entry and exit to shops etc…any sign of infection people are traced and quarantined it seems to work well but people comply…my take is over the years Asia has seen and experienced a few pandemics and when one occurs the safeguards kick in…In fact Thais are very vocal and adamant about staying safe which is why anyone who wants to come into Thailand has so many hoops to jump through no one wants infection let in..including me..stay safe and well Meeks πŸ™‚ x

    Liked by 1 person

    • acflory

      Yes, I’ve heard from UK friends that their app is a damp squib too. I think the compliance is the big thing. As you say, all the Asian countries that experiences SARS etc are way ahead of the game when it comes to knowing how to stay safe.
      We’re doing really well. Out states new cases are now down under 20 I believe. That’s down from /hundreds/ just a short time ago. Still self isolating and probably will continue to do so even after the acute threat is over but…feels good to know our state government got the job done. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • CarolCooks2

        Thats great news, Meeks although we have no not many of the guidelines have relaxed yet…but you can’t be too careful this virus is a persisitant little bugger πŸ™‚ x

        Liked by 1 person

        • acflory

          You can say that again. Saw a thing on the news tonight about how they now think the virus spreads as an aerosol a lot more than they originally thought…dah. I called covid a stealth virus in a previous post and it really is.
          Saw something else on the news tonight too – the Thai govt is stimulating the economy by subsidising holidays for the Thai people! That is so brilliant. πŸ™‚

          Like

          • CarolCooks2

            Yes they would rather Thais travelled within Thailand than allow travellers in to bring the disease with them..

            Liked by 1 person

          • acflory

            Honestly, as a covid policy, it’s absolutely brilliant. I know the amount of money circulating in the economy will be a lot less than with foreign tourists, but it will be safe money…sustainable money.
            I wish the Australian Federal govt had the same clarity of vision.

            Liked by 1 person

          • CarolCooks2

            It would certainly help to pick the economy up I just think from what I know about Thais they think in a different way ..an example is nothing just gets thrown away for example if something breaks they look at whether it can be mended and if not which parts can they use again…they think different to westerners there is a always a solution a workaround…its hard to explain but they think about Thailand and the rest the world is an afterthought…I know what I mean.. sigh πŸ™‚

            Liked by 1 person

          • acflory

            No, no! That makes sense. When my parents & I arrived in Australia as refugees, we had nothing. Literally just the clothes we stood up in and my little teddy bear. Repairing and reusing was simply the way I was brought up, and I still find it hard to throw good things away. Old towels I pass on to the animals for bedding, old sheets become pillow cases, food scraps become compost. πŸ™‚
            I think the throw away culture we’ve developed in the West is bankrupt. The price of convenience is way too high.

            Liked by 1 person

          • CarolCooks2

            Exactly how we roll and I have learnt even more ways to roll since living here…:) x

            Liked by 1 person

  • anne54

    I downloaded our app months ago. For some reason it seems to have stopped working, and really I don’t care. Like everyone else in Melbourne I am not going anywhere tore in contact with random people who may have the virus. Have you heard where it has been useful in Sydney, where there is some virus, and a lot more movement of people? I haven’t heard mention of the app for ages, and it was meant to be one of our main strategies of defence.

    Liked by 2 people

    • acflory

      As far as I know, the app quietly sank into obscurity because they couldn’t get Apple and Google [Android] to do the exchange of information. That’s why the Protect Scotland app works, because it was developed jointly by Apple, Google and whoever else was involved from the government side of things.
      I’m no fan of either communications company, but I’m angry that someone /here/ didn’t do due diligence before the money was spent and our only line of defence disappeared out the window. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

  • Gradmama2011

    So true that “…just because the app alerts people to the fact that they may have been infected, that’s no guarantee that said people will do the right thing and self isolate.”

    My question is then what happens once the cell phone bots report a “case” of infection? Will there be a way to place a flag on said phones so when they identify an exposure it will insert a warning in writing to callers? Will teams be formed that go out to infected homes and issue warnings? Then what?

    Liked by 1 person

    • acflory

      Good questions. In Wuhan, the alerts were enforced. I somehow doubt they’ll be enforced in Scotland. Or at least, not as rigorously. To be honest, I’m not even sure what powers human contact tracers have to ‘make’ people self-isolate.

      Maybe if the app. sent out a regular annoying noise if you left the house? or maybe flashed red until you put it back in its charger…assuming you charge at home & can’t bear to leave the house without your phone.
      Honestly? While I believe most people would be decent enough to do the right thing, I just can’t see it happening for that segment of society that thinks this is all a hoax. Or worse, thinks they’ll be safe and to hell with the ‘losers’ who catch it and die. 😦

      Like

      • Gradmama2011

        I dimly recall reading about a time, maybe during “the plague” that big Xs were painted on doors of homes that had been contaminated.

        Liked by 1 person

        • acflory

          Yes, I remember something like that too. Have you heard the story of Eyam? Pronounced EEM. In England during the great plague of London. Apparently a bundle of cloth infested with fleas arrived in Eyam and the village took the decision not to let the plague spread any further. The village became a bubble and each household was a bubble within that. If someone from your house died, you had to bury them with your own hands. No help.
          Long story short, about 1/4 of the population died but they didn’t run, didn’t spread the plague. Probably saved thousands of lives. So brave.

          Like

          • Gradmama2011

            I hadn’t heard about Eyam, very interesting. I did start reading The Decameron of Giovanni Boccaccio about the Black Death awhile back.

            Liked by 1 person

          • acflory

            The idea of the ‘plague’ has always intrigued and frightened me in equal measure. Odd to think that we are now getting more than enough personal experience on the subject. I am glad ours isn’t spread by the fleas on rats though. That would be insult to injury. 😦

            Like

  • DawnGillDesigns

    Scotland are doing so much better than England. Since 2016 the difference between the way the devolved nations are governing and managing their populations is practically abandoning the argument for keeping the nations joined and handing over full independence. Which is fine for them, but historically it’s been Scotland and Wales that have significantly helped us get away from Tory governments – the divide between left and right voting traditionally has been (with a few notable exceptions) as simple as city / rural in England, with rural areas of the devolved nations having bucked the trend and voted left as they have consistently been neglected over the centuries. I’m trying not to despair of ever having another left leaning government, but it’s difficult.
    And don’t get me started on the state of the app for us in England. Scotland had to go it alone for self preservation. Sorry, that wasn’t my usual chipper response. Have an extra hug to make up for it πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

    • acflory

      Hug accepted with thanks and returned.
      What you say about devolved countries rings a bell because most of our states are retracting due to covid. Borders closed against the states that have cases so that the virus free states can have life as close to normal as possible. It’s a defacto eradication policy. Don’t blame them one bit.
      I know what you mean about wanting a progressive govt. My state is a Labor state, and although the outbreak has hurt us badly, our Premier has brought us through. Federally, we have a conservative govt that shirks responsibility for everything, pretty much, and is only interested in saving ‘the economy’. God how I hate that word.
      Anyway, all power to Scotland. I wonder if having a female PM [like New Zealand] has anything to do with how well they’re doing.

      Liked by 1 person

  • HonieBriggs

    People are self-interested to their own detriment sometimes. Here in the U.S. each state’s health department is tasked with creating exposure notification systems using the Apple/Google framework. States legislators and governors who fully grasp the risk, much less how to leverage technology to mitigate risk, to their state’s population seem to be few. Privacy concerns paralyze law makers. Of course, it doesn’t take much to paralyze our government. The only federal action appears to be deploying armed militias to our cities to provoke fear and hatred. Not a very productive solution, but one that has become all too familiar to Americans in the last few years. We are our own worst enemy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • acflory

      The divide between progressives and conservatives has never been as wide. As a dyed-in-the-wool progressive, I do not understand the mindset of those in the other camp. Wasted hours on Twitter last night trying to fact check RWNJ [right wing nut jobs] who were tweeting out and out lies. Not even a drop in the ocean, but I’m compelled to call the lies out. And each time, my anger and hatred grows. Worse still, I know that they hate people like me just as much if not more. It’s almost as if we’re two completely different species that simply look the same.
      Believe me, the US is not alone in the madness, it’s just further along the road. 😦
      Stay well.

      Like

  • cedar51

    the “app in New Zealand” is different – it’s based on either “manual entry” or scanning the QR code now displayed all over the place, shops, public transport, the Mall entrance. I have a registered P/T card so I don’t need to be bothered with QR code on them.

    I have to find someone to scan the QR code as I can’t keep it still enough (I have severe hand disabilities), but nobody seems to care they are handling my phone…and you don’t need blue tooth for it operate as I’ve found out twice in the last week, in 2 different places.

    Love the voice on the clip…and even though a different sounding voice, makes for clear understanding.

    Liked by 1 person

    • acflory

      Ah, I see, so essentially it’s even more honour based than the Scotland app? I have a feeling NZ has less of a problem with compliance? Or perhaps the level of trust is higher.
      Whatever NZ is doing, it’s light years ahead of what Australia is doing, and we are soooo much better off than the US and most of Europe.
      Thanks for letting us know what things are like in NZ, and welcome to the blog. πŸ™‚
      I usually end with ‘stay well’ but I think you already are. -hugs-

      Liked by 1 person

      • cedar51

        yes “honour based” and it’s up to you… I’ve had the app for ages but I haven’t really been one of those “out there users” … in fact I’ve only been out a few times. And if I go to some place where I don’t use it, I record it on a piece of paper. So far, touch wood, I’ve not visited anywhere – “some c/19 positive person was, usually before test results” and the news has said “were you at xyz on day/date…” – I think one of my local supermarkets has been hit twice…but I don’t do my grocery shopping that way, right now.

        Liked by 1 person

        • acflory

          We’ve been in self isolation pretty much from March, for health reasons. I’m very glad that you have been extra cautious. As you say, people are infectious before the symptoms and/or test results come back. They can also be completely asymptomatic and never show any symptoms.
          I suspect the honour system can only really work when the virus has been all but eradicated. Let’s hope that we eventually get that trans Tasman bubble. πŸ™‚

          Liked by 1 person

  • Remembering Lives

    Wow love the sound of this app. It leaves the power with us. The Scots always had a great education system. Simple and effective. Even the Romans built a wall to protect themselves from the Scots, rather than fight with them. They are now showing coronavirus who’s boss.

    Liked by 1 person

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