COVID radar “doubles the manual tracking data” and prevents false positives: it will be available on September 15 throughout Spain

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COVID radar "doubles the manual tracking data" and prevents false positives: it will be available on September 15 throughout Spain

Some 3,200 people have taken part in the pilot phase that has allowed evaluate the behavior of the mobile application ‘Radar COVID’. It will have a contact tracking solution that will help minimize contagion and the impact of this pandemic.

The conclusions are very satisfactory for those responsible for the Government of Spain, who assure that false positives are avoided. The tool is expected to be available on September 15, but next August 10 a special version of urgency could be offered for some autonomous communities still to be specified and in which we want to advance this period due to the incidence of tourism.

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Manual tracking data is doubled

The data that has been collected during this pilot phase carried out in La Gomera between June 29 and July 31 is remarkable according to the government. To get started, 78% of simulated infections that were generated reported this positive within 24 hours, something that was a very good sign of the predisposition of the users to be able to help that task of tracking contacts.

In fact, the tool improved the contact tracking rate: with it, it was possible to trace an average of 6.4 contacts per dummy positive, while manual tracking achieved 3.5. That means Virtually doubles manual tracking capability thanks to the mobile app.

The retention rate was also relevant: 83% of the users who installed it have kept it active throughout the testing phase, and the app’s assessment has been an average of 8.2 and aspects such as ease have been highlighted of use, your understanding and the feeling of privacy. In fact, even being a pilot test with simulation of infections, users showed their intention to continue using the app in real mode.


For the Government of Spain, another relevant data is the commitment of users: 61% of users who received a code indicating that they were infected (simulated, we insist) they published that result in the app. That data is not perfect, but it is important because both the use of the app and giving that notice that we have been infected is completely voluntary.

From the Government they indicate that they believe that with a good awareness campaign that data will be able to improve even more. For Carme Artigas, Secretary of State for Digitization and Artificial Intelligence, the percentage is high because many users would probably think when receiving the code “well, it was a pilot” and they have not considered it so important to report it.

No false positives

Artigas continued indicating how the application has exceeded expectations and can be make manual tracking a “very useful add-on”.


The test simulated four waves of fictitious COVID-19 regrowths. Although it only worked on the island of La Gomera, more than 60,000 people downloaded the app throughout Spain. The conclusions of the pilot phase study reveal than:

  1. The app “see more” than us because we remember known contacts but the app “sees” unknown contacts
  2. The app it is faster than us when it comes to tracking down those contacts
  3. The app has more memory than us because it records any close contact
  4. The app is anonymous and little intrusive, and then allows you to receive the information call and reconstruct what you have done in the last 15 days

Another factor that this pilot phase wanted ruled out was the possible detection of false positives that could saturate primary care services.

This has been avoided with a first phase of this pilot implementation in which Bluetooth connectivity behavior was calibrated so that it would be restricted to that definition of “contact” that is already approved: close contact is one that occurs between two or more people who are less than 2 meters away for a minimum of 15 minutes. Both must have the mobile phone with them and the app active for that contact to be detected.

On September 15 throughout Spain, but on August 10 it could reach some Autonomous Communities.

Carme Artigas explained how development is already in the hands of the Ministry of Health and conversations are taking place with all the Autonomous Communities so that all of them can offer development in combination with their health services effectively.


For this, Artigas explained, it is necessary some preparation by the Autonomous Communities, They will have to decide who generates the code for people who are found to be positive and who can infect others.

It is also necessary that each Autonomous Community provide a contact service that allows the person infected I can know who to go to inform you of the next steps For example, review with her how these contacts occurred to know if it is necessary to rule out even more false positives (for example, if there was a contact between two people within two meters and more than 15 minutes, but both wore a mask).

The application is expected to be available on September 15 at the national level, but Artigas said that it will be attempted to there is an emergency implantation next August 10 in two or three Autonomous Communities due to factors such as tourism or special situations.


Here nominated candidates such as the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands, but without confirming any of them because in those implantations special criteria must be adhered to and the involved Autonomous Communities must quickly prepare those processes to be able to carry out the tracing without problems, although in this emergency phase the operation, he explained, it may be “more manual” than in the final phase of implementation.

Aritgas also highlighted that in this emergency implantation on August 10, an attempt will be made also offer a version of the ‘Radar COVID’ app in English for foreign tourists.

The more the better, but it is expected that at least 25% of the population install and use it.

From the Government it was also indicated that they do not have a “magic number” to talk about when estimating how many users should install the ‘Radar COVID’ mobile application, but Artigas expected “the maximum possible” although he pointed out that “from 25% the application proves to be already useful


Although the application is unique at the national level, it is necessary for each Autonomous Community to direct the infected user to the appropriate information telephone number in each of them, and the idea is that automatic dialing is offered within the app to facilitate that access to that phase of the process.

In this development, improvements are also proposed in the final design and adaptation of the application so that support all official state languages. There are other factors that should also be taken into account for that final version, since as Juanjo pointed out, a visually impaired developer, the tool is not accessible and does not allow you to accept the privacy policy in order to start using it.