SCOTLAND is turning to Ireland to help create its own contact tracing app to support NHS Scotland’s Test and Protect system.

It follows the  release of the StopCOVID NI app last week in Northern Ireland.  

The new tool expected to be up and running in the autumn will complement the existing manual contact-tracing program in place as part of NHS Scotland's Test and Protect system.

It comes as the UK Government's move to provide an app designed to become a key component of the test, track and trace programme south of the border to forge a way out of lockdown was beset by problems from day one.

After a trial on the Isle of Wight at the start of May, the contact-tracing app was meant to be rolled out to the rest of England by the middle of the month.

It later emerged that the wait would be till winter.

Then in June it announce it was abandoning a centralised NHS contact-tracing app for England and switching to a decentralised version, based on the Apple-Google toolkit.

This model has been favoured by privacy campaigners because the matching process takes place on users' smartphones rather on a central computer, providing a greater degree of anonymity.

NHS England is yet to provide a specific timeline for the launch of its contact-tracing technology.

The Scottish Government is meanwhile  working towards having a proximity tracing app available in the autumn via Apple and Google app stores.

It has been confirmed the app will make use of  the software used for Northern Ireland's technology, and which is also the backbone of the Republic of Ireland's Covid Tracker app.

Irish company NearForm developed the base technology for the apps, which uses Bluetooth signals to anonymously alert smartphone users if they have been in close contact with someone who has since tested positive for coronavirus.

The Health Service Executive of Ireland produced this video explaining how the app works.

The Scottish Government has indicated the app will focus solely on contact tracing, and will not include additional services such as symptom checking. The Scottish Government says this is already available via the NHS 24 COVID-19 app. 

Ireland's Covid Tracker includes an optional Check-in function to allow users to share whether they are showing symptoms of the virus with the public health services.

If an individual tests positive for COVID-19 they will be sent a unique code to their mobile. If they give permission, the data will then be sent to a server so close contacts also using the app can be traced.

The Scottish Government says that the  software is voluntary and does not ask users for any personal information at any time. 

It says  it "remains in discussion" with the UK government on its contact tracing app.