Czech anti-COVID app eRouška will soon connect with similar foreign apps

So far, countries in Europe do not share app data, despite the programs being basically compatible

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston
Published on 02.10.2020 14:32 (updated on 02.10.2020)

The eRouška smartphone app, used in the Czech Republic to track contact with coronavirus, will become connected to similar apps in other European counties to make traveling and cross-border working easier. It will also tell people about possible contact from tourists.

The recently launched European Federation Gateway Service (EFGS) will provide a way for applications to share data, and individual applications will be connected during October. So far, 11 countries are expected to participate.

Most contact-tracking applications work on the same principles, but the data from each country is treated separately. If people in Prague come near a COVID-19 positive German tourist using the equivalent German app, the eRouška application will not inform Prague residents of the possible contact. Likewise, if a Czech person tests positive after going to Germany, no one there will find out about contact.

In the future, the identifying data from the Corona-Warn-App, which is used in Germany, will be exchanged with eRouska, used in the Czech Republic. If the German person tests positive, they can mark a check box in their app stating they were in the Czech Republic. Contact data will then be shared via the EFGS gateway.

Both apps share data anonymously, so nobody using the apps will find out the name of the infected person.

The EFGS gateway was designed by the team that made Germany’s Corona-Warn-App. The eRouška app will join the gateway and start testing in the second half of October.

The original version of eRouška, launched in April, was not been popular in the Czech Republic. Many people complained that the initial version drained the phone battery.

A new 2.0 version was launched was launched in the middle of September that fixed many of the problems. In its first day, it was downloaded over 240,000 times, which is almost the same number that used the original.

The Corona-Warn-App has over 18.5 million installations and 5,000 people have been informed about contacts with someone who tested positive, according to news server iDnes.cz

The German app also allows people to use a QR code to find out their test results. So far, 1.2 million people used this function. People get a card with a code when they are tested, and then after a waiting period can scan the card to find out the results.

The makers of eRouska are working on adding a similar option to the Czech app.

Experts say tracking applications will likely be with us for a long a time, and will be one of the tools that helps life return to some sense of normalcy.

The eRouska app receives data from nearby phones.

“Using Bluetooth technology, eRouška connects to other eRouška apps nearby and saves their anonymous identifiers. If a user is tested positive for COVID-19, a public health officer contacts them and checks whether they use eRouška. If they do, they will send them a verification SMS code which allows the user to send their anonymous identifiers to other eRouška apps," the eRouška FAQ states.

"So eRouška 2.0 helps to inform other potential transmitters of the infection and speeds up their testing. This decreases the number of infected individuals in the society and the risk of you getting infected, too.”

Officials also urge people to ask their friends to start using eRouška.

“The more of us use eRouška, the better network to protect us and warn against risk we will create. Help us. You can actively join the fight against COVID-19 by installing the app. You can also tell people around you about it and help them install it,” the FAQ states.