The UK government says all data will be encrypted and anonymous, adhering to UK data privacy rules. And it hopes more than half of the 80,000 households on the Isle of Wight will download the app after its launch Monday, senior cabinet minister Michael Gove said on Sunday.
If the test is successful, the app will be rolled out across the country later this month, he added.
Such apps can be highly effective in stopping mass infections, according to Christophe Fraser, an infectious diseases expert at Oxford University who is helping to develop the UK app and has extensively investigated outbreaks of SARS, H1N1 and Ebola. If people are alerted that they may have been exposed to the virus, they can take steps to prevent further transmission.
In addition to the app, the UK government says it wants to hire 18,000 contact tracers in the next few weeks as part of its overall efforts to keep track of the virus once lockdown measures have been eased. Contact tracers will track where an infected person has been and who they may have come into contact with.