Belgian authorities on Wednesday launched their contact tracing application Coronalert to help stop the spread of coronavirus.
The application alerts users if they have been in close contact with people who tested positive for the virus — much like similar apps that have been rolled out in France, Germany and many other European countries in past months.
The app was made available on Apple’s and Google’s app stores Wednesday. The application needs 15 percent of Belgians to sign up for it to provide first results, researcher and co-creator of the app Axel Legay told local media on Tuesday.
The Belgian app works according to the “decentralized” model, meaning data is not stored centrally by a government authority but rather kept in people’s phones for a period of 14 days. A group of European researchers advocated for this approach before the summer to limit the risks of privacy violations.
The applications were heralded as a key tool to fight the spread of the virus in the first months of the pandemic. But poor uptake by people wary of handing any of their information to governments and tech giants, combined with technical limits on functionality across borders, have hamstrung the efforts.