COVID radar, the official COVID-19 contact tracing application in Spain, it still does not work completely, because for this it must be integrated into the health systems of the autonomous regions, something that must happen at the latest on September 15. Even so, its massive deployment is being a success, being the most downloaded app on iOS in Spain.
It is a very important factor, because if the download population is small, its utility will be low compared to what it can suppose with a large adoptionas it practically doubles the manual tracking capacity. But, beyond all this, what do we know about the development of the application and whether it is open source or not?
Radar COVID has been developed by Indra, relying on the Apple and Google system and on DP-3T
Indra award contract.
One of the big news of 2020 is that the two biggest players in the mobile world at the operating system level, Apple and Google, did not take long to agree to develop a Bluetooth contact tracing API. Both companies have no more responsibility than allow governments that want to take advantage of the API to write a simple application that takes advantage of its benefits.
Also, there is some degree of adaptability: countries can define what constitutes an exposure (more or less time close to the other person), choose the number of exposures, optionally have the app ask for contact information so that they can be contacted by health authorities, etc.
When it became clear that tracking applications would be necessary, it went through the debate between whether the tracking system should be centralized or decentralized. Finally, Apple and Google opted for the latter, which means that the API identifier codes are stored locally on smartphones, in front of the centralized system, where they are uploaded to a server of the health authorities.
As a great exponent of the decentralized system was and is the open European protocol DP-3T, developed in Switzerland by the Spanish engineer Carmela Troncoso. Google and Apple supported this system, and Radar COVID is based on it, thanks to open source implementations for iOS, Android and servers. In addition, after publishing the Swiss tracking application, they published their code, available for anyone who wanted to use it.
Very glad Spain is ready to deploy privacy-preserving contact tracing! # DP3T 🛬 🇪🇸
I hope the code and documentation will be released soon so that we can study it and help improve! https://t.co/tn8qv37aWh
– Carmela Troncoso (@carmelatroncoso) August 1, 2020
All this base of DP-3T and Google and Apple has been used by the Indra Group to develop Radar Covid, under the supervision of the Secretary of State for Digitalization and Artificial Intelligence (SEDIA), led by Carme Artigas, which in turn belongs to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation.
The development cost of Radar COVID has been 330,537.52 euros
Development (and it must be remembered that the system has not yet been deployed) has been particularly slow, lasting about two months (the contract with Indra was formalized on June 15 through emergency procedures), and relatively expensive (330,537.52 euros) if we take into account all the work carried out by DP-3T and Apple and Google. We know some of these details thanks to this Newtral report.
Is Radar COVID an open source application?
We don’t know yet, until the code is released, if it happens. When the development of Radar COVID was announced, the Government of Sánchez promised that the application would be open source. However, as of today, and with the application already available in both the Android Play Store and the iOS App Store, SEDIA has not released the code used or reported the license used.
That the code is published is crucial for developers to analyze applications and find both potential improvement points and vulnerabilities that may pose a risk to the privacy of users, since the data we are talking about is very sensitive.
On what part of the open source will be released, SEDIA has made no progress, and it would be interesting to know if they will do it from the app or also from the server side. As for when we will be able to see the code released, according to statements from the institution to Newtral, it will be on September 15, when the final application is launched: “The pilot has been a development to make the necessary tests and improvements. the final application, which is scheduled for September 15, of that application the code will be released “.
From Genbeta we have contacted SEDIA to learn more details of the COVID Radar code, and we will update the article if we receive more information.