8 July 2020 11: 35 am
Updated at 14h34
For or against an app COVID in Quebec? The government wants to know
The government Legault is launching an online survey to find out if Quebecers are willing to download an application on their cell phone to track down the COVID-19, this fall.
The consultation of 15 questions is available since Wednesday on the site consultation.quebec.ca. Quebecers will be able to respond until 2 August.
Basically, the application would be to know if you have been in contact with an infected person in the last 14 days and, by the same token, you consent to register with an anonymous number detectable with the help of Bluetooth technology by other users, if you yourself are reported positive to the new coronavirus.
Three conditions, however, appear “non-negotiable” for the minister delegated to the digital Transformation of government, Éric Caire, responsible for the dossier : “It is clear in our minds that such an application must exclude any form of geolocation, any form of the use of markers, biometric and any form of storage of personal information”, has hammered the minister Cairo, Wednesday morning, at his presentation press pretty intimate.
“In no time, the government of Québec intends to deploy an application which would be based on the one or the other of these options. What we want is to preserve the privacy of the Québécois to protect their personal information while deploying to an application that may be useful in the protection of our population and the fight against the pandemic. This is the only objective of the government of Quebec.”
The survey is basically on the interests, the fears, the usefulness and usability of such an application for the citizens.
“A significant participation of the population” is the key to success when deploying such an application, insists Mr. Cairo.
“It can be a tool that is useful if and only if the people participate. If nobody downloads it, how it is useful? So, if people don’t want it, they will download it not. If they don’t download, this is useless,” he explains, refusing, however, to quantify the participation desired or expected to its online consultation.
Mr. Cairo connects with two european examples diametrically opposite. In Germany, a similar application has received popular acceptance with a certain success, while a download rate “anemic” of around 2% in France was a failure.
“The public consultation has two objectives. Is it that Quebecers have an appetite for it? Yes or no. If yes, what are the fears? If not, what are the barriers that make that Quebecers have no appetite for it? Then, if it is capable of responding to these concerns, then have a calm debate based on elements that are real.
“We can explain the operation briefly [as is the case on the site], and then say to Quebec : “It is what it is something that you think might be interesting for the fight against the pandemic?” If Quebecers are telling us, in a number that is significant, yes, yes, we can go forward. But if Quebecers are telling us, in a number just as meaningful, no, at this time, we know that it is doomed to failure. So, why go forward?” said Mr. Cairo.
First half of September
The minister Cairo would be the first half of September in order to deploy the said application, which already exists.
“It takes an application that is going to be able to communicate with other applications, because, as you know, the pandemic does not work in a silo. Therefore, it would be a little curious that the government do it. And we are preparing for a resurgence of the pandemic somewhere at the end of the summer, early fall. Therefore, it is necessary that it be deployed quickly. In this sense, you will understand that to develop an application from scratch, it requires a lot more time. Normally, we talk about being between 18 and 24 months if one wants to make something robust, he says.
“And then I would tell you that the solution developed from scratch would hardly be compatible with the calendar that we set ourselves. So, yes, I think the optimal solution would be to go to a solution that has already been developed, of which we know that it is safe, that it meets our criteria. Then, you will understand, then, that it comes to limit the options”, said the one that gives its teams of four to six weeks after the end of the consultation to put everything in place.
The government fears a resurgence of the virus in mid-September.
Since the 1st of may in Alberta
Only province to use an application tracing of the COVID, and has been since the 1st of may, the province of Alberta has agreed that a citizen in five, about 20%. Ontario had to throw hers in the past week, on 2 July, but was postponed. It was in fact a first step towards a deployment to the greatness of Canada. Other provinces such as British Columbia and New Brunswick have also indicated their interest.
The minister Cairo recognizes that the possibility of regionalizing the use of this application in Québec exists, but do not see so much of interest. “It’s got to be an application that is desired by a very large segment of our population throughout the territory. It would be difficult to deploy it in a region, not in another”, avance-t-il.
To ensure its reliability and safety, the chosen application would be subject to 5 to 10 days of tests at the government Centre for cyber defence established by the minister in Cairo last fall.
In addition to the online consultation, the government will also conduct surveys more conventional and three days of parliamentary committee on the subject, 12, 13 and 14 August.