Immune, the app for social tracing is ready: how will warn those who are at risk of contagion


The Immune release is getting closer: from June 5 it will start with experimentation in three regions (Liguria, Abruzzo and Puglia) to which three more could be added. If the tests are successful, from June 12, the app will be available throughout the national territory and it will be possible to download it from the App Store and the Google Play Store.

The Immuni app is the tool chosen by the government for monitor the infections from Covid-19 and trace the spread of the virus, in order to prevent the outbreak of new outbreaks throughout Italy. Immune is an app for contact tracing and uses Bluetooth technology to communicate smartphones, the pillars on which this system rests. The operation is quite simple: when two people who have Immuni installed and active Bluetooth meet, their devices exchange an anonymous identification code. If in the following days one of the two people tests positive for the infection, the other receives a notification on the smartphone that the notice of exposure to Covid-19 and the need to contact the local health service.

The APIs of Apple and Google

The arrival of Immuni was rather troubled: initially it was expected for May 4 with the start of Phase 2, but due to “bureaucratic” problems and related to the development of the app it was postponed for a month. To change the plans of the Government and Bending Spoons, the Milanese software house that is developing the app, the announcement by Apple and Google to work in common with APIs that would allow Android and iOS smartphones to communicate with each other and exchange identification codes.

The APIs only arrived on May 20 and Bending Spoons had to adapt Immuni to the new contact tracing system created by the two big names in technology. System that is already available on users’ smartphones, thanks to software updates that arrived in the previous days: for Apple users it is integrated within iOS 13.5, while on Android it was released with the latest Google Play Services update.

The release of the automatic update on Android has also sparked some controversy, with messages appearing on social networks in which Google was accused of wanting to automatically activate activity tracking. All this referred to the appearance in the smartphone Settings of the item “Exposure notifications to Covid-19“. Function that by default is not active and will become active only when Immuni arrives and only if the person wants it.

What is the Covid-19 Exposure Notifications System

Exposure notifications to Covid-19“Is the new feature that all users with a smartphone running Android 6 or higher have been finding for a few days in the Google Account Settings. The tool is used to alert a person if he has had close contact with a infected at Covid-19. To operate the tool it is necessary that on your smartphone Immuni is present with Bluetooth activatedotherwise the Covid-19 Exposure Notifications system is disabled.

How exposure notifications work on Android

The exposure notifications are the beating heart of contact tracing applications like Immuni. The tool is activated after installing the app on your smartphone and with Bluetooth working. What are they for? Notifications allow the smartphone to share random IDs with other telephones in the vicinity where the Exposure Notifications system is active. All anonymous IDs are saved on the smartphone and shared with a central server managed by Sogei. If a person with whom you have come into contact is positive for COVID-19 and reports his health on the app, you receive a notification that warns of exposure to the virus. At this point, the National Health System enters the field and will have to swab and quarantine the person.

Not you have to be concerned about your privacy: the codes that are exchanged between smartphones are anonymous and it is not possible to trace the person. When the exposure notification is received, only the day, the duration and intensity of the contact are reported, in order to protect the privacy of the positive person. The causal ID is also changed every 10-20 minutes and after 14 days it is automatically deleted. Finally, it must be emphasized that GPS is not used in any way, so Immuni does not track the person’s position and activity.

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