The Immuni app is ready. Here is the site where to download it, for Android and iOS. It will only really work in the regions participating in the test phase. The publication on the stores had to go through the Privacy Guarantor, who gave the green light for the processing of personal data. Now the app is ready to accompany Phase 2 of the Coronavirus epidemic.
On the app website it is written that the version for AppGallery, connected to the Huawei system, is also being worked on. On the homepage, we read: “Let’s start together. Returning to live normally is possible. Immuni helps us to do it first and without giving up on privacy ».
The development of the app was entrusted to the Milanese software house Bending Spoons and was coordinated by the Ministry of Innovation led by Minister Paola Pisano. At the beginning, the release of the app was announced in mid-May, then postponed to the end of May. And then again moved in early June. The arrival on the stores was greeted with enthusiasm by the government and controversy by the opposition.
How to download the Immuni app
For the moment, Immuni is only available for smartphones that have Android and iOS operating systems, and therefore can only be downloaded from the Play Store and App Store. Not a big limit, given that in Italy the percentages of those who mount another operating system are negligible. What you need to check is that you have installed the latest available version of the operating system on your device. If you have Android, this is the procedure to follow to check that you have everything updated:
- Open the app Settings the phone
- At the bottom, touch System, then advanced and then System update
- Check out the sections Android version is Security patch level
If instead you have an Apple device and use the iOS operating system, the procedure to follow is this:
- Open the app Settings the phone
- Select General
- Tap on Info
The regions participating in the experimentation
Information on the regions participating in the Immuni trial has been fragmented. At the beginning it seemed that there would be three: one for each area of Italy: Liguria for the North, Abruzzo for the Center and Puglia for the South. Then the sample widened to six. Friuli-Venezia Giulia had to be included in the new champion, but it slipped. The presence of the Marche is confirmed.
On the afternoon of June 1, a joint note from the ministries of Health, Innovation and the Council Presidency clarified the territories in which the app will be tested: “Starting from Monday June 8 the regions of Abruzzo, Liguria, Marche and Puglia . Having the app now will allow you to trace the contacts that may have exposed a person to the risk of contagion. Regional health services will gradually be able to activate the app’s alerts. ”
Only in these regions will the app also be linked to the national health system. In the areas where the test is active, Immuni will be fully operational: it will record our contacts and allow the National Health System to report contacts made with positive patients. In other regions it will be possible to download but the services it offers will not be accessible.
How the Immuni app works
When we started talking about it, Immuni was defined as an app by contact tracing. Now we prefer to speak of this app as of exposure notification. In fact, its function will be to notify users with a notification if they come into contact with a person tested positive for Covid-19. For how the app works, the notification will not be immediate but should take place a few hours later.
As already abundantly clarified by the government, the app will not be mandatory. It can be downloaded on a voluntary basis and having it will not constitute privileged access to travel. Immuni’s goal will therefore be to contain the infection by allowing those who receive a report to immediately quarantine and request a swab from the national health system.
The source code
The source code is the DNA of a computer program. Inside there are all the indications on how this program works and on what will be the interface that users will see. On this point, the Ministry of Innovation has kept its promises: it has published the Immuni source code on the GitHub platform, so that everyone can read it.
The first publication took place on May 25 and concerned the frontend app. We apologize to the programmers for the simplification, but in short it is the part of the program that we will see on the smartphone. On May 28, the part of the code that explains how the backendi.e. the whole system behind Immuni and which will allow the app to keep track of contacts and alert those who might be at risk of contagion.
Privacy and contact management
To understand how the app works in detail, we analyzed the source code with Roberto Reale, mathematician and president of Eutopian (European Observatory for Democratic Innovation). From the code we read that the backend it will be based on two services: one is the channel on which the (anonymous) cryptographic keys of users who will be positive for Coronavirus can be loaded. With cryptographic keys we mean the codes assigned to each user when they download the app on their smartphone. This operation can be done only after the authorization of the National Health System.
The other service, on the other hand, is a sort of public register: an archive from which all the smartphones that have Immuni installed periodically download these anonymous keys, so as to see if among the contacts that have been registered by the app there is someone who is positive result. If the app finds something, the report is sent to the user. Anonymity is however always guaranteed.
The service that deals with the public registry is already in operation and relies on the Akamai private server: «The service that deals with the public registry – explains Roberto Reale – relies on a server managed by the private provider Akamai. And it is already active. This means that we are there. The app is ready and could work from the next few days. Only the service that takes care of the data upload is missing and then the infrastructure is completed “. This second service, on the other hand, is on the Sogei network, a company in house of the Ministry of Economy and Finance.
The whole system of the app is based on a technology that we have come to know in recent years, at least since Apple decided to remove the headphone jack from its iPhones: Bluetooth. In particular Immuni takes advantage of a feature of this technology called low energy Bluetooth which allows Bluetooth to always remain active by consuming little energy.
To tell the truth, any app can access this feature. The problem is that Immuni should do it in the background, that is, even when we don’t open the app on our smartphone. Google and Apple have decided to unlock this possibility for only one app per country and only for apps that serve to monitor the Covid-19 epidemic.
Cover photo Pixabay / Silviarita