There is welcome news that a new contact tracing mobile app will be launched here next week, and that it could potentially avoid the need for further lockdowns. However, it can be a success only if a large number of people use it.
The StopCOVIDNI app. is already being hailed as a "world-first", and although the technicalities are complex, some of the details are outlined in our news story in today's paper. One of its attractions is the ability of the app to operate across national borders, and also its ability to alert users anonymously if they have been in close contact with another user who has been tested positive for the Coronavirus.
To add to the good news, the new app will be compatible with the contact tracing service in the Irish Republic, and it is anticipated that it will work with the app already being created by the NHS in Britain. The server will also allow this app to work in those European countries which have a tracing service in the same format.
The Republic of Ireland launched its tracing app earlier this month, but the welcome news for us is that Northern Ireland will be the first part of the UK to launch the app.
Much praise for this is due to Dan West, the chief digital information officer with our Department of Health and Dr Eddie O'Neill, the app's product manager.
It is good to have this app, but the real test is how many people are prepared to use it, and if enough will not to do so this will negate the whole exercise.
People in Northern Ireland have generally been very responsible in responding to the measures being taken to deal with the pandemic, but one of the great dangers now is to assume that the worst is over, and to let our guard drop.
It is essential that we embrace every initiative which will help to turn the tide against Covid-19, especially true when so many medical and other experts are warning us about the possibility of a second wave of the virus in the autumn and winter.
We must all make StopCOVIDNI a success.