The President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez (i) and the Minister of Economy and Third Vice President of the Government, Nadia Calviño (d), arrive at Parliament to intervene in the Control of the Government session held in the Congress of Deputies. Dani Duch / Pool / Europa Press

La Gomera, neglected and isolated for years, will be for a few weeks the center of attention of the central and Canarian governments. The small and round island is since Monday June 29 the laboratory where the pilot test of Radar Covid, the mobile application for tracking infected by the coronavirus, is developed.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation will deploy a test over the next three weeks on the island that should serve to verify the effectiveness of a decentralized app that, after various hesitations, comes later than those of other neighboring countries such as Germany , France or Italy.

The process will be divided into three phases, as explained by the Secretary of State for Digitization and Artificial Intelligence. The first one is known as the startup one and will be managed directly by the local authorities. Although it is true that it began yesterday unofficially, its release will not be until noon on Tuesday, when the official act is held at the Cabildo de La Gomera. The event will be attended by both the Canarian President, Ángel Víctor Torres, and the brand-new Minister of Health, Blas Trujillo; that of Public Administrations (and predecessor of Trujillo), Julio Pérez and the president of the Cabildo, Casimiro Curbelo. In turn, the appearance via videoconference of the Secretary of State for Digitization and Artificial Intelligence, Carme Artigas, is scheduled.

This first phase will consist of a communication, awareness and training campaign for the citizens of the island. In addition, the so-called promoters, those in charge of capturing and assisting potential Radar Covid users, both in person and by phone, will be trained.

Second stage

It will be in the second phase, starting on July 6, when the central part of the test begins. At a given moment, an initial positive will be released with which the operation of the notification system will be verified. Subsequently, another three waves will be generated on July 10, 13 and 17, until the number of affected cases reaches three hundred. In this phase, a daily monitoring of the indicators will be carried out to follow the evolution and know the effectiveness of the app. Not surprisingly, what the Spanish pilot project tries to verify is the value of a tracking tool in a marked regrowth environment, since its effectiveness on a large scale remains a mystery.

The last phase, the post-pilot call, will begin on July 20. It will then be time to analyze the results, especially in four specific aspects: how many people downloaded it, how many users kept it and, above all, how many positives were reported.

This is, in fact, the main contribution of the trial, given that the pilot will hardly serve to gauge the popularity that the app would have if it were to be implemented in the rest of Spain. The goal is to reach 3,000 downloads, and this figure seems feasible on the island, despite its scarce 370 square kilometers and 22,000 inhabitants. One of the reasons for choosing La Gomera as the pilot’s scenario is that it was “one of the territories in Spain where citizen collaboration has been essential in controlling the pandemic,” according to the central government.

This collaboration was based, to a large extent, on the figure of the president of the Cabildo, Casimiro Curbelo, who is also a spokesperson for the Gomera Socialist Association in the regional Parliament and supporter of the current Canarian Executive. The president enjoys great popularity (the ASG won three of the four seats in the regional Parliament that were disputed in La Gomera in 2019 and has 11 of the 17 seats in the Island Council) and is a strong defender of the implementation of Radar Covid on the island he runs. “La Gomera is the benchmark,” he assured EL PAÍS last week. For this reason, his push from the island leader will be decisive in getting 13.6% of the island’s population to install the app. By way of comparison, in Germany, a country that boasts of the success of its own, around 15% have so far downloaded Corona Warn App, its tracking app.

Privacy, a key aspect

Covid Radar will work on both iPhones and Android phones as the operating system. The app has already been sent to Google and Apple to pass their validation processes and be published in their respective stores. Anyone can download it, although it will only work during the trial period within the island of La Gomera. The application will also work in a decentralized way. In this way, the privacy of the user is guaranteed, since the health authorities can not identify users at any time individually. Germany and Italy followed this same path, and Germany is for now the only successful case of a technological solution to contain the expansion of the coronavirus with multiple unsuccessful attempts. France and the United Kingdom, meanwhile, opted for another model, in which the health authorities had to know how many and who had been close to an infected person. And it was the government that should warn them, not the other way around. Your applications have not achieved the desired penetration or performance. The decision on whether this technological project, which requires citizen collaboration, will finally be implemented or not, will be adopted once the pilot test in La Gomera has concluded, which will not take place until the end of July. The last decision on its implementation, in any case, will be made by the autonomous communities. It will be in this last phase when it is analyzed how many people downloaded the application, how it worked, how many positives were communicated and how many users kept the application active. Sources from the Secretary of State for Digitization and Artificial Intelligence have explained that a priori it is considered that the sample would be representative if this application were downloaded by nearly 3,000 people. If it reaches that number, the idea would be to introduce about 300 simulated infected.

You can follow EL PAÍS TECNOLOGÍA RETINA on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or subscribe here to our Newsletter.

Information about the coronavirus

– Here you can follow the last hour on the evolution of the pandemic

– The coronavirus map: this is how cases grow day by day and country by country

– Questions and answers about coronavirus

– Guide to action against the disease

– If you have symptoms, these are the phones that have been enabled in each country in Latin America.