What is Spain's official contact tracing app and how does it work?

What is Spain’s official contact tracing app and how does it work?

Today we tell you What is Radar Covid and how does it work?the official application of the Government of Spain for contact tracing that takes advantage of the system created by Google and Apple that is integrated into iPhones and Android phones. After a pilot phase in La Gomera, the application has already begun to be activated officially, although it will not be fully functional until the autonomous communities incorporate it into their systems at the latest on September 15.

First we will tell you what this application is and what it is used for, and then we will go into detail about how the technology used by this application works. know who you’ve crossed paths with without sharing any personal data or using your mobile GPS, and explaining how it is used.

What is Radar Covid

Radar Covid is an application created by the State Secretariat for Digitalization and Artificial Intelligence and is similar to those created by other countries such as Germany, Italy or Switzerland. It is an application with which the mobile phone can keep track of who you’ve crossed paths withcommonly known as contact tracing. This information is used to determine if you are at risk of having been infected with COVID-19, by detecting that your mobile phone has been in close proximity to someone who has later been confirmed to be infected.


The app itself is pretty straightforward and doesn’t really do the math itself, but rather the contact tracing API created jointly by Google and Apple takes care of this. This API is basically a feature that has been automatically added to Android and iPhone handsets, ready for you to use. Official applications in each country can use it to track contacts easily without having to create it from scratch. It is this API that causes Android phones to include a menu called COVID-19 exposure notification.

Radar Covid uses this API to calculate who you have recently crossed paths with and based on this information it tells you your risk level. To do this, it takes into account the people you have crossed paths with in the previous 14 days. less than 2 meters away, for a period of more than 15 minutes.

Radar Covid is used to show you your level of exposure to the coronavirus, calculated based on whether you have come across people with a confirmed diagnosis in the previous 14 days

In practice, it is the same as automate the work of crawlers (people who are dedicated to investigating all the people with whom a person with a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 has been in contact). The pilot program in La Gomera yielded good results, practically doubling the manual tracing capacity.

Radar Covid serves two purposes: to see your risk of exposure and to communicate your positive diagnosis

In addition to informing you of the risk of COVID-19 infection, Radar Covid also allows you to communicate that you have tested positive for coronaviruswhich is essential for the system to function. The diagnosis is sent anonymously, providing a numerical code that will be provided to you by the health authority with the results.

How Radar Covid works

The way Radar Covid works is similar to other contact tracing apps that use the Google and Apple system, since most of the work (the tracing itself) is carried out by said system. It is a system that is based on the Bluetooth connectivity and does not use GPS, location nor any unusual permission.

No personal information or location is exchanged at Radar Covid: only anonymous identifiers that change frequently.

Basically, when the app is installed and active, the mobile generates a daily random key Identifiers are generated from these codes that change after 10 to 20 minutes and are transmitted to nearby mobile phones via Bluetooth. It is important to note that these codes do not contain any personal identifier that could facilitate the recognition of the device or the person to whom the mobile phone belongs.

This random code is broadcast several times per second using the mobile’s Bluetooth and nearby mobiles that also have Radar Covid installed will pick it up, so both phones will record the contact. Mobile phones with active Covid Radar automatically search for these codes every five minutes. This entire process takes place on the mobile phone itself, which stores the “codes” it has found for a period of 14 days.

When someone receives a positive diagnosis of COVID-19 and enters it into the application, the application asks for permission to send the daily random keys of the last 14 days to the server. These keys of positive cases are downloaded daily to the mobiles that use Radar Covid and allow the application to identify, by checking against the list of identifiers that have been crossed in the last two weeks, whether there has been a risk of contagion or not. On an Android mobile, you can see the status of these checks by following these instructions.

To put a practical exampleIn the graphs above, the person on the left has COVID-19 but doesn’t know it yet, and both people go to the same restaurant. Their phones store each other’s passwords and keep track of their contact details. A week later, the person on the left confirms their infection and enters the code into the app.

The next day, the mobile phone of the person on the right downloads the updated list of identifiers with confirmed infections and shows you a notification that you are at risk of infectionbut no one can know who the person whose infection has been confirmed is or who they have crossed paths with. The only data shared between mobiles are temporary identifiers and do not include the mobile number, phone number, name, email or any other data.

How to use Radar Covid

From the user’s point of view, Radar Covid is very easy to useTo start using it, you must download it from your app store (Google Play on Android or the App Store on an iPhone). The app does nothing on its own, you just have to open it and activate tracking.

To do this, you must open the application, accept the terms of use (which you can read here) and Turn on the switch on Radar COVID. This will display a confirmation window from the system created by Apple and Google for contact tracing, in which you must press Activate.

Its use is as easy as pressing a button and checking the status from time to time.

On your part, you should not do anything other than follow the safety recommendations indicated by your autonomous community and check your risk level from time to time. As we mentioned before, the application will periodically check if your mobile has been in contact with other phones whose owners have later received a positive diagnosis of coronavirus. If this happens, You will receive a notification and it will be shown to you in the app, including recommendations on what to do next.

Likewise, If you receive a positive COVID-19 test If you are a healthcare centre whose autonomous community has already implemented the system, you will be given a numerical code to enter into the application. When you do so, the code is sent to a server that verifies its authenticity. If it is correct, you will be asked for permission to share your latest identifiers with the system, which we must remember are random and change daily.

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