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Estonia's coronavirus notification app 'HOIA' downloaded 100,000 times

A sign promoting HOIA alongside hand sanitizer and facemasks at a presidential reception at Kadriorg.
A sign promoting HOIA alongside hand sanitizer and facemasks at a presidential reception at Kadriorg. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The free coronavirus exposure notification app 'HOIA' has been downloaded by 100,000 people, the Center for Health and Welfare Information Systems (TEHIK) said on Monday. So far, 22 people have declared themselves ill through the app.

Tanel Tera, the head of e-services at TEHIK (Tervise ja Heaolu Infosüsteemide Keskus) which manages and hosts the application, said for the third week in a row, HOIA is the most downloaded mobile application in Estonia. 

"Certainly, various large sporting events and festivals have also played a role here, and more and more people have downloaded the HOIA app for safe attendance," Tera said, adding that the more people downloading it, the better it will work.

"You should definitely not be afraid to mark yourself as sick through the application, because it is not possible to identify a person based on it," Tera explained that no one can monitor an infected person through the app or access his or her data.

"HOIA" was created in voluntary cooperation between the Ministry of Social Affairs (Sotsiaalministeerium), the TEHIK and 12 Estonian companies - Cybernetica, Fujitsu Estonia, Guardtime, Icefire, Iglu, Mobi Lab, Mooncascade, Velvet, FOB Solutions, Heisi IT OÜ, Bytelogics and ASA Quality Services OÜ.

The purpose of the app is to inform close contacts of those infected with the coronavirus and to provide them with instructions on how to proceed. Its aim is to limit the spread of coronavirus.

It works because phones which use the app register Bluetooth signals from other nearby phones. If the signal is sufficiently close and long enough, an anonymous code referring to a close contact will be stored in their phone. 

 It is not possible to identify a person based on the anonymous code. 

The app can be downloaded from the App Store and Google Play Store. Read more about the app in ERR New's feature or on HOIA's website.  

HOIA was launched on August 20.

€200,000 to be spent on HOIA campaign

The government is to allocate €200,000 from its reserve to the Ministry of Social Affairs to launch a campaign to promote HOIA.

An extraordinary additional cost not planned in this year's budget has emerged in the ministry's area of government, the explanatory memorandum of the draft order says.

As it is not possible to cover the cost at the expense of other expenditure in the ministry's area of government, the government at a Cabinet sitting on August 27 decided to allocate €200,000 for the app's information campaign.

According to information published in the media, the app cost €30,000 to the state as all development-related works were performed by partner companies and the state only had to order a security analysis.

The €200,000 allocation will be used for the creation and distribution of information materials, media advertisement, inclusion of influencers and campaign development. A solution for the campaign along with budgetary distribution will be determined in cooperation with the winning bidder in a public procurement. 


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Editor: Helen Wright

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