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Do I need the new Luca app? Our FAQ has all the answers

The Luca app is on everyone’s lips, even Smudo advises downloading it. What is the new anti-corona app about and will it finally release us from the pandemic horror? We have the answers.

After the official Corona warning app, the Luca app is now in the public eye. The solution is to digitize contact tracking in the catering industry and thus help to achieve more normality. Here we answer the most important questions about the app.

Where can I download the Luca app?

The Luca app is available for Android and iOS devices:

Luca app for Android in the Google Play Store (from Android 5.0)

Luca app for iOS in the Apple App Store (from iOS 12.0)

What is the Luca app and what can it do?

The Luca app should, according to the noble goal, make the lockdown superfluous. When visiting restaurants, churches, cinemas or at events, the app enables timely and data protection compliant contact tracking, in which the health authorities are directly involved. In theory, you no longer have to register yourself in open visitor lists and guest books, this is what the app does: With the help of QR codes, it creates an encrypted contact diary and records all encounters in a history. If a user tests positive, the health department reports as usual, and you can then make your own contact history available to the authorities on a voluntary basis. Infection clusters, which are considered the secret drivers of the pandemic, should be traceable in this way. Luca currently has two main problems: Not all health authorities are taking part – this is a mandatory requirement for public use. Despite the hype, the number of users is still manageable. If the system is to work well, as many citizens as possible have to participate.

How does Luca work?

Above all, Luca should connect three parties to one another in a short way: These are hosts, visitors and the health authorities. Before starting, you have to register in the app with your name, telephone number and address. You can cheat with your name and address, but the phone number has to be correct, it is verified by SMS. Anyone who then goes to an event receives a QR code from the app that varies every minute, which the host can read in when checking in. Alternatively, users can check in themselves using a QR code at the location. Such locations can theoretically be set up anywhere, including on public transport or at work. Thanks to geofencing, checking out when leaving a location is then very easy.

What happens in the event of an infection?

If an infected person or an organizer (where an infected person was on site) shares his data record with the health department, all users listed in it receive a message as soon as the office accesses it. If you are then classified as at risk yourself, a warning appears on your smartphone, usually followed by a phone call from the health department. The more users reveal their encounter data, the easier it is for authorities to track down “super spreaders”. So those infected people who infect a particularly large number of people.

Can I also use Luca for private meetings?

That’s fine. Such private protocols have long been recommended by the virologist Christian Drosten. In a personal contact diary, Luca can record meetings with friends for up to 30 days by simply selecting the “Create private meeting” function in the app. QR codes are also used here. The only requirement: everyone present must use the Luca app. So far, the health authorities have not heard of these private meetings. This has at least the advantage that you can use the function even if the responsible health department is not yet involved in the Luca system.

Do I really need a smartphone for Luca?

No, Luca can also be used without a smartphone. There are key rings with analog QR codes that work in a very similar way to the app. The pocket trackers are already in use on Sylt. Organizers also have the option of registering visitors via a browser if guests do not have a smartphone or do not have it with them.

Why are more and more federal states relying on the app?

Luca is not the first application for recording contact data, but the interface to the health authorities gives her a decisive advantage. On the one hand, guest lists no longer have to be laboriously and sluggishly evaluated by hand. On the other hand, the health authorities (if users allow it) can call up extensive encounter data that enable complex evaluations and better infection tracing. This should also significantly accelerate the processes of the authorities and eliminate the error-prone contact recording based on reminders.

Luca app: The experts’ assessment

Will Luca replace the Corona warning app? What is the difference?

Luca cannot and should not replace the Corona warning app – rather supplement it. While contacts are recorded across the board via Bluetooth with the Corona warning app, the Luca app is used to create visitor lists for events or catering, which are available to the health authorities promptly in the event of an infection. Luca does not automatically warn if you get too close to infected people on the bus or on the park bench, but creates contact groups for people who were in the same place with the app at the same time. In this way, Luca can make infection chains visible at events and allows measures to be taken promptly. You can use both apps in parallel without any problems.

Are my data safe with Luca?

Apart from the affiliated health authorities, nobody can decrypt the QR codes used in the Luca app and trace them back to individual users, and the authorities are only allowed to do this in the event of infection. Until then, the generated data records will be stored double-encrypted on DIN-certified servers of the German private company neXenio. After 30 days, the stored visit data is automatically deleted there. Organizers, developers or other users have no access to it.

Where is Luca available so far?

In order to use Luca in public spaces, the regional health authorities must provide an interface. So far, this has only been the case in a few selected countries and cities in Germany, including:

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania:

Rostock and Schwerin

North Rhine-Westphalia:

Warendorf

Saxony-Anhalt:

Salzlandkreis

Schleswig-Holstein:

Ostfriesland

Thuringia:

Jena

Because the number of participating health authorities regularly increases quite spontaneously, we recommend checking the availability of Luca around your own home with a postcode search on the website of the provider.

Who developed the app and what does Smudo have to do with it?

Smudo from the Fantastischen Vier opens

Twitter
and a lot of advertising for the Luca app on TV. Together with the developers, the Berlin startup neXenio, he campaigns for the pandemic tool with his hip-hop ensemble. It’s not just about PR: The musicians apparently took part in the implementation, Smudo supposedly came to the office almost every day. There is also an end in itself behind the commitment: The rappers actually wanted to celebrate their 30th anniversary with a tour last year, but due to the corona, the event is on hold for now. When looking for a solution for the pandemic break, the Stuttgart-based company then came across neXenio, and the app has been tinkering with since then.

Is Luca finally doing everything better?

Hard to say. Not all health authorities are connected to the service yet, and Luca’s potential also depends largely on how many citizens use the app. Even with Luca, you only know whether you were really safe at a concert or in a bar if all the other visitors were also using the app – in practice that is hardly imaginable. The municipalities in Germany also decide which health department participates in Luca. That alone bodes well for a lengthy process; inquiries are currently being made to each of the approximately 400 offices in the country individually. Because there are currently few events taking place and restaurants and shops are largely closed, the app has yet to pass its acid test.

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