back to article NHS contact-tracing app is best in the world, says VMware CEO... whose company helped build it

VMware has emerged as a player in coronavirus contact-tracing. Speaking to Fox Business last week, VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger described his company as the “prime partner” for the UK National Health Service’s contact-tracing app. “I believe they are taking the lead worldwide,” he said. “We have also learned many of the things …

  1. ceedee

    NHSX proximity tracker v1

    A quick search of HMG's Contract Finder page shows the NHSX contracts are all with Zuehlke Engineering (the UK subsidiary of the Swiss company, Zühlke Technology Group AG) so I guess they're using Pivotal / Tanzu expertise on a sub-contract basis.

    1. gnasher729 Silver badge

      Re: NHSX proximity tracker v1

      I think that's for the replacement of the non-working app with one that uses the Apple/Google API.

  2. MatthewSt Bronze badge


    I'm not sure if I'm missing something somewhere, but if the decentralised versions don't collect personalised data couldn't we have had one global app (or one global system for the apps to present a UI for)?

    The current model is interesting while we're all on lockdown, but working on the principle that contact tracing is going to be with us for a while, what happens when people start travelling again? Do you need to install the app for whichever country you're in?

    1. Bob7300

      Re: Decentralised

      I think the only thing you missed was that it is Governments the world over making them.

      Not exactly known for forward thinking are they?

      1. Warm Braw Silver badge

        Re: Decentralised

        Unfortunately, there are also significant areas where there is a lot of cross-border movement for work, leisure, shopping, etc. Obvious examples are along the Irish border and the Schengen borders in mainland Europe. If these people are invisible to countries other than the one in which they live it's going to seriously degrade the information available to the countries in which they spend a lot of time, so some people may be stuck with multiple battery-draining trackers.

        Of course, the jury is largely still out on whether the privacy-respecting approach will be adequate. South Korea has been very successful in containing the virus, but it has been very aggressively using all sorts of personal information such as card transactions and mobile phone data to determine exactly who has been where at any time. There is an argument that if there is only one "privacy focused" app and it fails to deliver sufficient benefits then there will be a public clamour for an immediate pivot to drastically more intrusive measures. At least if there are several attempts, and one works, other countries might have a way out that doesn't involve the South Korea or Israel approach.

        1. ibmalone Silver badge

          Re: Decentralised

          Interesting clip on the radio news this morning, Israeli agencies more normally tasked with monitoring Palestinians are now being tasked with tracking Israelis for covid prevention. Some Israelis are objecting to being 'treated like terrorists' (their words, not mine). Might encourage some thoughtful reflection later, probably wont.

          1. werdsmith Silver badge

            Re: Decentralised

            Israeli skills in this area are in demand by governments and "other organisations" all over the world. They are really good at it.

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: Decentralised

              "They are really good at it."

              It depends what you mean by good.

              The report on the Beeb web site says they've picked up 4,000 who then tested positive, about 25% of the known cases. But they sent out 79,000 alerts so that looks like 95% false positives. What would the hit rate have been if they'd sent out 79,000 alerts to random people?

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Decentralised

                "The report on the Beeb web site says they've picked up 4,000 who then tested positive, about 25% of the known cases. But they sent out 79,000 alerts so that looks like 95% false positives. "

                95% false positives is one person passing it onto 1 person in 20 they came in contact with - did you come in contact with someone that passed on the virus or did you just come in contact with some who was later found to have the virus but didn't pass it on. And just how many people do you come into contact with each day if things return to some semblance of normal? 10? 50? 100? 1000? More?

                South Korea had success with contact tracing because they ignored privacy concerns, deployed it quickly to a small population that had a high proportion of smart phones and could be treated relatively easily/successfully (i.e. 20-40 year olds).

                And then there is the question of what is the actual spread of the virus - very low (<1.2m cases in ~4 months based on ~225k cases in the UK to date - that assumes the detected cases fall into the 20% of cases serious enough to reach a hospital for testing and is meant as an upper limit for small scale infection with high death rate) in which case the number of cases is likely to be traceable or is it much higher but difficult to detect in most non-serious cases in which case the number of actual cases is much, much higher and contact tracing will likely find super spreaders too late.

                That then morphs over time into the question of whether the Swedish approach (no lockdown, we're in this for the long haul) or the lockdown/test/trace contacts approach is the correct way to treat it over the longer term. Lockdown definitely capped patient numbers in the short term based on data from multiple cities/countries and testing is definitely needed to understand the virus better, but whether they alter the death toll and number of patients over a longer time frame is less certain if a silver bullet vaccine takes 1-2 years to appear.

                That's not to say contact tracing, testing and masks don't serve to reduce distress in the general population. The value of placebo's should never be underestimated.

                1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                  Re: Decentralised

                  "95% false positives is one person passing it onto 1 person in 20 they came in contact with"

                  Maybe. The alternative view is that if the infection rate was 5% this is no better than random.

                  The report also included an interview with one person who'd received an alert. He wasn't offered a test, he was told to self-isolate and developed no symptoms. If this instruction was sent out to 79,000 people it means that 75,000 were taken out of circulation for a couple of weeks for no reason at all.

                  In Isreal the govt. might be able to enforce that. Here it would lead the app very quickly being deinstalled or the responses disregarded. This is why I keep saying that in order to work it needs to be backed up by quick tests for all alerts.

          2. overunder Silver badge

            Re: Decentralised

            "Some Israelis are objecting to being 'treated like terrorists'"

            Throw them over their Berliner wall and shoot them... do Israelis deal with problems any other way?

            SSshhhhhhhh... pay no attention....

            Russia baaaaad, Israel goooooood.

            More Kool Aid?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Decentralised

              "Russia baaaaad, Israel goooooood."

              I'm sorry your doctor hasn't brought you your medicine comrade. They had an accident and jumped out of a window. It seems to be happening a lot lately. Here are your dried frog pills...

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: couldn't we have had one global app

      Of course not. Each country has its own trough and its own snouts that want a piece of the app pie.

      So we're all going to replicate each other's efforts and we'll end up with apps that are incompatible between them.

      What a great world, eh ?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: couldn't we have had one global app

        ... and under the current UK Emergency Regulations, such work does not have to be put out for competitive tendering and can be awarded to the mates of the Government without any public scrunity,

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wear the mask

    It's assumes

    ** 1 phone = 1 person,

    ** phone location = person location,

    ** everyone installs their app,

    ** everyone has a phone

    ** the phone is always on

    ** location is always available (GPS indoors).

    ** phoneless children don't spread disease

    So, yeh, sure it works, if we ignore the basic logic flaws, the best app in the world, says PR man for company that wrote it. Logic doesn't matter does it?


    The proof is in the pudding? UK curve is not falling, cases are not dropping off, Austria, look at their Daily New Cases curve, see the sharp decline, almost in the same 2 months as the UK, they're back to near zero:

    They WORE MASKS. It looks like you're missing the mask thing. WILL YOU PLEASE WEAR THE F*CKING MASKS ALREADY!


    It seems to me that someone in UK was worried that masks would be in short supply for the NHS, so they cooked up the most ridiculous argument as to why people shouldn't wear masks. It was a bad choice, the better choice would be to tell them how to make their own improvised mask. Now that that person has dug a hole for the UK, with a lot of bodies in it, and they find it difficult to reverse their decision and undo that damage. Not least because they've already planted the idea that masks are bad in people's minds.

    Now it will be hard to explain to people that masks are good, after filling their heads with misinformation.

    But wear the mask.

    1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

      Re: Wear the mask

      I hate going to the supermarket, people who ware masks seem to think it makes them immune to the social distancing rules, BACK OFF and stop scratching your face where the face mask is making your face itchy!!!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wear the mask

        "stop scratching your face where the face mask is making your face itchy!!!"

        The joy of masks.

        Initial advice:

        - wash your hands every two hours as it will reduce the likelihood of transmitting the virus from something you touched to your mouth. Don't touch you mouth...

        Mask wearing advice:

        - all will be fine with a mask. You mean I should wash it? And not touch my face? And it's only to prevent me spreading it to others rather than making me immune? And the virus won't wait while I take it off for 5 minutes to have a break because its uncomfortable? And my hands aren't dirty so why should I wash them?

        It will be interesting to see future scientific studies that test the relative effectiveness of each approach outside scumbags choosing to cough or spit on people. Which requires the scumbags to leave their masks on..

        1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

          Re: Wear the mask

          You forgot gloves...

          They have value as long as the gloves are very regularly very carefully removed and carefully replaced with clean gloves. Failing to remove gloves very carefully is an issue with trained NHS staff, let alone the general public.

          Not replacing gloves does nothing other than keep a virus off your own hands, it certainly doesn't help to prevent the spread of a virus, and some studies have indicated that wearing gloves spreads a virus faster.

        2. big_D Silver badge

          Re: Wear the mask

          You forgot taking the mask off using just the bands and keeping your hands and other surfaces away from the inside of the mask, before it is disposed of / put on a 60°C wash cycle...

          1. hoola Bronze badge

            Re: Wear the mask

            From what I have seen there are far too many people that don't get the plot about masks.

            A mask does not protect you, it is to limit the spread of potentially infected droplets to others. The lack of understanding on this is blatantly clear locally with some of the older "at risk" people wandering around with masks.

            A mask is a major source of infectious material as it is worn and people then inevitably touch their face and the mask and then touch other things. Touch is one of the main vectors in passing the infection on to others, door handles, trolleys, money etc. This is where the hand sanitiser came in but people are now forgetting. I am still been baffled at why the supermarkets still have all the self-selection bread, fruit and veg out. A lot of this is not going to be cooked so must be a risk as multiple people handle it.

            There is a huge swathe of the population that are critical of everything that has been done. They stubbornly refuse to follow the advice because they either don't agree with it or are so selfish and arrogant that they are confident they will not be infected. One assumes that these are also the same people who are desperate to jump on an aeroplane for hours so they can fly off on holiday.

            It would not matter if the outcome had been perfect, they will still moan.

            1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

              Re: Wear the mask

              In regards loose fruit and veg (I tend to prefer it as I then buy what I need otherwise I waste half a pack for instants), I was always taught they must be washed as soon as you get home with them.

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Wear the mask

      No, it doesn't assume "everyone" anything. Then numbers required are between 60 and 80% of smartphones depending who is talking.

    3. ibmalone Silver badge

      Re: Wear the mask

      Actually, it doesn't assume all of those things, it only aims to get enough of them to have an effect. E.g. one phone to one person, yes there are people with multiple phones, but how many people have a main personal phone that they don't normally have with them? The proportion of people that don't have phones is a larger problem, but again you don't need everyone. There's some disagreement over how effective app based tracing can be, for example (pre-print, but the authors are established epidemiologists who have previously run a large contact tracing app experiment), but as part of a battery of measures it's useful.

      Because no one thing is a panacea. Masks? Proper filtering masks when used correctly will reduce your risk of getting the virus, these are in short supply worldwide, our health service still doesn't have enough. The good old headscarf or pants over the head will reduce the chance you infect someone else if you cough or sneeze, not greatly reduce your chance of catching it. They're not the miraculous protection some people in supermarkets seem to think, especially for a virus spread largely by contact, they're just one more tweak to the reproduction rate, maybe useful, provided the false sense of security and tendency to touch the face don't outweigh the benefits, but not a sole solution either.

    4. Peter Prof Fox

      Re: Wear the mask -- Not that simple

      A mask is a badge of paranoia. People who wear them tend to be much more concerned about hygiene etc than others. However going round breathing through a dirty snot-rag is serves no purpose other than smear a trail for further. Albeit it should be a narrower trail. Everyday breathing may exhale some virus particles but one virus particle isn't enough to spread the disease. Coughing on the other hand is a great way to spread a mighty cloud. If you're worried about airborne transmission then avoid coughing or contain coughing and sneezing. But what you used to contain the cough or sneeze is now a source of contamination via touching. Hence the original advice: Use and dispose of tissues. Unfortunately the manners of many brits are disgusting and don't stretch to any hanky.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        None of that is true

        Do doctors and nurses wear masks because they're paranoid, or because they work?

        Long rant aside, it reduces the viral load and its been extensively modelled and each mask does not need to be perfect to be effective. Far from it.

        So no, this is the problem here, you've been fed a load of shit to justify the initial withholding of masks, and now you actually believe that shit.

      2. Stuart Castle Silver badge

        Re: Wear the mask -- Not that simple

        Do you close and lock your front door when you leave? Why? A talented burglar can likely bypass most consumer level locks and security systems relatively quickly. After all, the perfect security system does not exist (either in the physical world, or on computers). Every security system has flaws. So, bearing in mind the fact that your front door likely doesn't provide perfect protection against burglary, why use it? Just walk out the door, leaving it wide open.

        You probably don't do that, because it is stupid, and even though your front door, door lock and any other security system you have aren't perfect, you know they do reduce the chances of you being burgled. Masks and other face coverings do reduce the chances of you getting the virus. They also reduce the chances of you spreading it, in much the same way locks reduce the chances of you being burgled.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Wear the mask -- Not that simple

          That is a wonderfully logical discussion around why we should wear masks.

          The problem is people aren't quite so logical. Masks are left laying around after use, potentially infecting surfaces if they did stop anything. People fidget with masks and take them off, making it more likely to spread anything they have touched to their face. And as careful as you are, masks don't stop someone else sneezing in your face.

          The studies around masks so far have been largely theoretical - they are based around models and assumptions but lack real world testing. Although Singapore might be providing that for us with their second wave within an environment where mask wearing is common during medium-to-high risk conditions.

    5. K

      Re: Wear the mask

      Don't get me started on the Mask - Fact is, they are are extremely useful and successful at both reducing the the potential for person to transmit it, and for somebody to actually breath it in.

      GOV.UK is aware of this, and has been outright lying about their usefulness. Their motivation was clear, they didn't want citizens rushing out and hoarding them, when the available supplies were needed for front-line services.

      But rather than treating us as Morons, they should have educated people, been honest, and upfront about prioritisation. Instead, there is now effectively a legal black-market for them, where even chemists are charging £5 for a disposable paper mask!

      1. SkippyBing Silver badge

        Re: Wear the mask

        Considering the reaction of the UK population to being treated like adults at the start of the lock down I wouldn't blame the government for treating them like mouth breathing morons for the rest of time.

      2. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

        Re: Wear the mask

        Don't get me started on the Mask - Fact is, they are are extremely useful and successful

        Have you noticed the published roadmap is subtly different to what the press and media have reported?

        It specifically talks of "homemade cloth face-coverings" and explicitly distinguishes these from "face masks", "surgical masks" and "respirators".

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Wear the mask

          Yeh, they have a surgical mask shortage in the UK, but improvised ones work, just not as well. They want to keep the quality product for the NHS, and you can make something yourself.

          Fair enough, but the initial misleading message really makes it hard to get people to wear a hand made mask, even if its 70% effective compared to 85% of a proper mask, or 95% of an N95, it still largely works.

          People swallowed the bollocks and now recite the drivel back to me.

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Wear the mask

        "Fact is, they are are extremely useful and successful at both reducing the the potential for person to transmit it, and for somebody to actually breath it in."

        Two different things with two different requirements. Preventing breathing it in requires an expensive mask with a proper filter system to trap aerosols and HMG quite rightly doesn't want people stacking these up alongside their mountain of toilet rolls, paste, flour etc. when the front-line needs all they've got.

        Preventing transmission of a disease people have needs something to catch larger droplets. It's a lower spec providing you don't take it off to cough but if you're coughing best to stay at home and do a proper job of avoiding transmitting the disease.

        1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

          Re: Wear the mask

          "... if you're coughing best to stay at home and do a proper job of avoiding transmitting the disease."

          This ^^. If you feel the need to wear a mask, then you shouldn't be out. Either you have a cough or you are in an at risk category. If the former, observe the self-quarantine rules. If the latter, choose to stay at home or take a risk.

    6. Lord of Cheese

      Re: Wear the mask

      Sorry Anon Shoutycrackers but I actually do the analytics at an NHS trust and the numbers of admissions with COVID and numbers of patients being diagnosed with COVID peaked at the end of March and has been dropping like a stone since, something which is being replicated across the country hence gradual lifting of lockdown without needing everyone to look like they are ready to rob a bank.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Not true

        UK Covid official data is available online:

        New daily cases March 31st 3009, Now (May 11) 3403.

        Slight increase. March was not the peak, and it is not dropping like a stone. I don't get why you are attempting a lie there when the data you claim to crunch is available freely online!

        "without needing everyone to look like they are ready to rob a bank"

        Doctors wear masks, do they look like bank robbers? Or are you grasping for excuses why something that's worked everywhere else cannot be done in the UK?

        Does all of Austria look look like bank robbers? What about the successful European countries?

        As I said, 'experts' pushed the 'mask = bad' lies and now cannot reverse they position without their professional expertise being questioned. Perhaps they should go back to claiming to be a cheese expert?

        1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

          Re: Not true

          This shouldn't need saying on such a data aware forum as El Reg, but just for Anomentards everywhere (yes the fail is for you AC).

          His data (if he genuinely works at a trust) <> centrally collected data.

          Hence both, either or neither could be "good enough" for this purpose. As external observers on a public forum we will never know.....

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Not true

            No, the full data is also available to him, its there on the search, he chose to portray a subset as if it was the whole (the NHS admissions he claims to crunch, which also does not match the reality).

            A quant would know this, and so I think he is just a liar.

            1. Lord of Cheese

              Re: Not true

              Sorry, you have made a basic schoolboy error and utterly failed to understand the data. Increased COVID diagnoses are an artefact of the significant increase in testing and does not provide a useful picture especially as 80% of people diagnosed only experience minor symptoms.

              The facts are that patients ill enough to require hospital admission are dropping significantly, those patients newly diagnosed on admission are dropping significantly, numbers dying are reducing, those are facts. Now there may well be a second hump with new freedoms, we have yet to see, no doubt changes will be made if that occurs but at the moment there is plenty of capacity in the hospital system. At my own trust we are only using half our bed capacity and the expanded ITU is less than half full. The NHS is already gearing up to restart its elective work, albeit with increased safeguards.

              Hopefully that’s helped you better understand but I suspect deaf ears don’t listen!

              1. werdsmith Silver badge

                Re: Not true

                Hospital admissions For CV19 and occupation of critical care beds Is dropping fast according to the ONS numbers shown on BBC1 on the 5PM briefing.

                Confimed cases of new infections Is falling slowly despite the huge increase in testing that should detect more.

            2. ibmalone Silver badge

              Re: Not true

              Before accusing others of lying, it's worth checking whether you might, in fact, be wrong. For example, hospital admissions in England for covid have been dropping. It's hard to miss if you live in the UK, as they include the graph it in every daily briefing on tv (5pm most days, except it seems the pm doesn't want to play second fiddle to PowerPoint), but here it is for the perennially lazy :

              This is not the same as new covid cases. As mentioned that is being partly buoyed by increased testing. Though having looked at the new case charts and testing charts side by side I'm not convinced it explains everything and suspect that the spread in care homes (where deaths have lagged the hospital deaths a bit) also plays a part.

        2. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

          Re: Not true

          @misinformation AC: "Doctors wear masks, do they look like bank robbers?" Doctors, nurses dentists etc wear masks *for specified purposes*, and rarely when actually communicating with patients. They are, aware of the hugely negative impact of not having the evolutionarily maximally communicative parts of the face visible. Studies exist that show that trust takes a huge hit when communicated through a mask.

          "Does all of Austria look look like bank robbers?"

          Yes, yes it does. It also makes them look like paranoid fools.

          "What about the successful European countries?"

          Define "successful". However, I have stopped talking to my Czech friends and relatives if they insist on wearing the mask either on video chat or in person.

      2. davefb

        Re: Wear the mask

        You can also look at the self report data from kings college's app. Obviously its not as accurate wrt actual numbers, but the drop off is clear and yeah 1st april.

        You can also report if you have had a test as well now.

        Surely the government also has nhs 111 call data ?

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Wear the mask

        I think what was confusing the A/C is that the graphs of total positive results is remaining flat. What the A/C fails to take into account is the increasing number of tests and that there's going to be a correlation with number of tests as well as with the number of actual infections. Tricky things, sampling effects.

    7. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Wear the mask

      I know plenty of pensioners as well who don't have mobile phones, let alone smartphones.

      They only leave the house to go to the doctor, shopping or a short walk and for those couple of hours a week, they don't need a mobile, so they don't buy one.

      1. TrumpSlurp the Troll Silver badge

        Re: Wear the mask - plenty of pensioners

        Bearing in mind that there are also plenty of pensioners (State or private?) still in their 60s and early 70s who have tech aware children (and often grandchildren) and use smart phones to communicate with them.

        They are also often fit and active and walk, cycle or run every day.

        I think you need a more precise definition of a grouping with little or no technical grasp.

        Perhaps those who don't have a Broadband connection?

        Edit to note that I would lump into Broadband owners anyone with a smartphone and data package.

        1. big_D Silver badge

          Re: Wear the mask - plenty of pensioners

          Both sides of the grandparents of my step-daughters have no Internet and no mobile phones (in their 70s when I first met them, now in their late 80s). They don't see the need, they don't go out and they have the TV...

          One sister-in-law shared a Nokia 3310 with her husband up until last year, now they share a smartphone, because grandchildren.

          These are people who never used a computer at work, their children didn't have computers growing up and they never used/needed a computer at home...

          Heck, my other half didn't get her first PC until her kids were in the equivalent of high school and she never used it, it was just for them to use for homework. The first time she had to use a computer was when she applied for her Master Craftsman Diploma in her mid 40s. I now turn on her computer once a month to fill in her timesheet for her.

    8. gnasher729 Silver badge

      Re: Wear the mask

      UK curve is actually falling. Weekly deaths have been going down 20% per week for the last five weeks.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wear the mask

        Then you're obviously fine. Well done. I hope Ireland catches up soon. Deaths here are ticking over at more or less the same rate since nursing homes and suspected cases were included in the stats.

    9. Ken 16 Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Wear the mask

      Yeah, I've got 2 phones - my old Blackberry Classic and the MS Lumia 650 I updated to when prices dropped at the start of this year. Which of those should the government track?

    10. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Re: Wear the mask


      No I won't, and I'll think less of anyone simply doing shopping or getting exercise. Face coverings are the preserve of people who want to hide their identity and wish people with hearing difficulties to be unable to communicate with them. I don't let my children wear masks for play, so this isn't a random objection.

      More minor reasons - I have psoriasis on my face, and face covering will make it worse; I'd need to shave off my beard of forty years standing; masks make my glasses steam up. Added to the tiny, tiny risk of catching or passing on the virus, there is no argument that works for me.

  4. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    Any face covering will do according to the news item I saw at around 10am on 12/5/2020 on Sky News. I'll watch the news again at 11 and see just how much the information has changed. It'll be something along the lines of 'do wear a mask, unless it's not a mask, in which case make sure you're 2m away from your daughter, unless she's your cleaner, in which case you can see her at your house, without a mask but with alertness'

    1. cantankerous swineherd Silver badge

      you cut the bottom off your t shirt and wrap it round your face.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Easier still; start to put your T-shirt on - and stop.

      2. tiggity Silver badge

        Lots of pervs can indulge their used pantie sniffing fetish by wrapping them around their face.

        I use home made cloth mask (not made from pants!) - quite easy to do on a sewing machine - plenty of online guides for pleated masks ( recommend cloth doubled over and with gap to add filter disk if you like)

        It wont make much difference to infection rates, but will make some difference (assuming people do not then feel artificially safe with them & act stupid)

  5. I Am Spartacus

    Spring in to NHS?

    Can we expect that Pivotal have built the NHS app in Spring Boot?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "We have always been at War ...

    ... with the Truth."

  7. s. pam

    Why the heck not a UK developed app?

    There are numerous companies based and chartered in the UK who have huge mobile expertise that also know the market and understand protecting PII.

    Vmware, sod them. Nice company for virtualisation but not know for UX / mobile.

    1. Dave 15 Silver badge

      Re: Why the heck not a UK developed app?

      Why not a UK company for this app, for PPE, for the NHS system, army tanks, navy aircraft, police cars, ambulances, fire engines? All the same problem. The civil service was educated at Oxbridge, universities that have produced the Russian spies that gave away our secrets. These people loath, decide and hate the UK and the pleas that live here. They hate with such a passion they wish to destroy our economy and jobs.

      There is no other explanation, if it was once in a while I would suspect backhanders, but as it is always the same I discount that

      1. myhandler

        Re: Why the heck not a UK developed app?

        *Union Jack tin foil hats are also available.

      2. IGotOut Silver badge

        Re: Why the heck not a UK developed app?

        Dave you get your tin foil hats from the UK?

        You leapt from PPE to Oxbridge to 60 year old political issue in a few short hops.

        Not sure where you get half your info from but let's address a few:

        PPE...Cost. That was simple. UK made, double the price.

        Police cars, Ambulance and Fire Engines? Eh. Well many are made in the UK, and they are most certainly converted here in the UK. One of the companies that do it are on the same estate as I work on.

        Sure some navy vessels aren't made here (plenty are), simply because we no longer have the facilities. It's ok building a few ships every 20 years at a shipyard, but how do you sustain that same shipyard for the rest of the time? This may come of a suprise, but most shipyards around the world have shut down, and put simply, the UK is to expensive to build merchant ships.

    2. ibmalone Silver badge

      Re: Why the heck not a UK developed app?

      My take away was they're being used for the back-end of the system, which is usually where the intelligence is in most apps. Given the show about open-sourcing the app itself I imagine there are some people currently hoping this doesn't get too much attention in case more people put two and two together. (But who are we kidding?)

  8. Grease Monkey


    The gubbermint have already said that they need 80% of smartphone users to use this app in order for it to be useful. They have also said that their path out of lockdown (let's not call it a roadmap because that's meaningless) relies on contact tracing. However they have also said that if the trials don't go well they may move to a decentralized solution as preferred by South Korea.

    The first question to ask is a simple one: If South Korea's solution was successful (and it was) why are we re-inventing the wheel? Developing a new app has taken time and money and it's still not over as the app is still being tested.

    So the follow up question would be: Users are required to proactively install an app, however the majority already have software on their phones that is tracing their every movement, why not just talk nicely to the providers of this software and ask them to just spam their users in the UK with a simple opt in prompt, would that not be a simpler solution which would reach a wider audience?

    The answers to both these questions would be slightly embarrassing for Being as they are: 1. Dom and his team of "misfits" didn't actually bother looking at how South Korea had achieved things they just went off half cock throwing money at the problem (and surely nobody is suggesting they kept any of it). and 2. Yes.

    Unfortunately nobody seems to be asking the questions. Or if they are they are not asking them loudly enough in a public enough forum. I would contact my local MP and suggest a question at PMQs but my new MP is not only a Tory who toes the Boris line in all things, but he is also almost invisible. Unlike our previous MP who was not only very contactable, but also very vocal in representing her constituents.

    As for Starmer holding the "government to account" he seems to have one topic where he asks for a path out of lockdown and then when he's given one doesn't seem to be able to think of any intelligent questions.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: 80%

      Too many cheap Androids in the smartphone fleet, running Nougat without possibility of upgrade. Won't run this app.

      But it is a trial at the moment and criticisms of betas should go back to the developers to sort out.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 80%

        "Too many cheap Androids in the smartphone fleet, running Nougat without possibility of upgrade. Won't run this app."

        This - try deploying an app in a largish corporate environment and discover the dregs of the mobile phone pool that some people are stuck with.

        Now expand that to BYOD devices.

        What do you mean Reg in accounting won't use a smartphone unless it's got buttons the size of a saucer? He always seems to spot any invoicing errors when a supplier rounds up to the nearest penny...

    2. Just Enough

      Re: 80%

      Yes. Let's give Facebook a justification for their current tracking and an excuse for expanding it. That couldn't possibly be abused in the future because of their past rigorous record of observing personal privacy and data regulations.

      If there is one organisation I'm less likely to permit tracking me than the Government, it's Facebook.

  9. Dave 15 Silver badge

    Nice to see

    Nice to see HMG using UK tax payers money to buy software engineering expertise from the UK. What a refreshing change from supporting US companies and paying US engineers the higher salaries they get compared to our own. Who knows it might mean salaries in the UK are increased with increased demand. An increase in salary might mean the jobs are more interesting and attract our yuff to the more difficult STEM subjects.

    Oh? What's that? The government hasn't changed and we are still buying foreign as we did with the oh so successful NHS computer system and those wonderful not compliant PPE kits that were partly picked up by the RAF because delivery didn't happen? Oh cool thought for a moment someone with brains and economic nonce had penetrated the civil service.

    1. IGotOut Silver badge

      Re: Nice to see

      Dave I've replied to your other post which was pretty much the same.

      The reason they bought the PPE from Turkey (which half was crap) was because it wasn't available in the UK. There is a LOT we are buying from UK manufacturers, but we can't make enough, but that doesn't suit the flag wavers.

      If that's such a problem for you, take a long hard look at your wardrobe, how much is British made? My guess, very, very little. Then you rant that we are not buying British. Well you, and most of us, are the problem. We don't buy British clothing, so there is no British clothing companies that can quickly switch to making gowns.

      So stop blaming the Government (it would make little difference who was in), it's the consumer who is to blame.

      1. s. pam

        Re: Nice to see

        There's warehouses FULL of PPE in the UK, up in Mercyside. Been covered by a number of news outlets. Its just the current cunning runts are too stupid to answer their calls so they're selling it overseas.

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: Nice to see

          PPE burning through at a rate of 50 tonnes every 2-3 days.

          They bought crap PPE from Turkey because when it becomes available they have to take a punt and buy it because if they don’t then it is snapped up by other nations. There is no time for due diligence.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Test USA Meat for Corona Virus

    Look Nebraska is trying to hide the infection centers in its meat plants.

    That meat will have Corona Virus contamination. If they're all coughing on each other, then they're coughing on the meat.

    Test the meat coming from those plants .

    Trump can force the plants to stay open, and so the owners can ignore the county and states, but it will be all over that meat, so test it.

    Remember Typhoid Mary? You don't allow infectious deadly disease laden people to prepare food products and meat is no different. So test it. Then if you detect the virus on that meat, reject the meat. The factory will close, test and clear its workforce and plant quickly enough if it cannot sell virus tainted meat.

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: Test USA Meat for Corona Virus

      "and meat is no different"

      There is actually a potential difference. Is the meat product something that is supposed to be cooked? Because proper coming ought to nuke the virus. After all, look what passes for chicken over there...

    2. IGotOut Silver badge

      Re: Test USA Meat for Corona Virus

      Not an issue. They'll dunk it in chlorine for a few hours to kill it off.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Test USA Meat for Corona Virus

      The problem in meat processing plants isn't the product, it's the working conditions.

      There are too many large scale plants that rely on large numbers of low paid workers working shoulder to shoulder. Because the pay is so low, the employees live with their extended families. And they have little or no health cover to allow them to seek treatment early. For example Smithfields in Sioux Falls, but I believe two more Smithfields plants in the US have suffered similar outbreaks.

      While CORVID-19 hasn't been studied extensively for temperature extremes and coronaviruses have shown they can survive extended periods of freezing, food safety during storage in warehouses and trucks far exceeds the conditions present in Typhoid Mary's times thanks to refrigeration.

      Although I guess modern food safety during transit/storage is unlikely to help you if your chef is the actual source of contamination.

    4. ibmalone Silver badge

      Re: Test USA Meat for Corona Virus

      Interesting fact about typhoid Mary, her speciality dish was ice-cream and cold peaches. If it had been steaming hot apple pie maybe she wouldn't have killed anyone,

      Generally when cooking meat you assume it's contaminated with something, this is why you use separate knives and chopping boards and wash your hands. It's also why you can get away with eating beef rare, the outside that's come in contact with things is seared, but hamburgers need to be cooked thoroughly (the mincing process exposes much more surface), and steak tartare is infamous for this reason. (Parasites are still a worry, which is why you don't see rare pork.)

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