UK Covid Local Data App

A small app providing some data about case rates at the most local level available in England for particular age groups.

This app didn’t really started as planned for release (and it ended up that I couldn’t release on iOS) at least. The intention was partly to play with Swift’s structured concurrency in a real context and partly to get the UK cases data into a form where I could handle it and update it more easily than I was managing with a spreadsheet.

If you want to try the app you either need to have a Mac with macOS Monterey (12.0) which is currently only in Beta release (download app here) or to have Xcode to build and install and install it from source code on your iPhone or iPad (Github project).

Using the App

On first launch the complete cases history for the entire pandemic will be downloaded from the UK government covid data APIs. This is likely to take a few minutes to download and process into the app’s database. On subsequent launches it will only request newer information which should be fairly quick. Note that about 400MB of disk is likely to be used by the downloaded data.

There are three screens. The main screen lists the areas the data is for, this can be sorted by case rate, growth rate or by name. You can also select the age groups that you want to include and the selecting or deselecting them, the case rates and growth rates should adapt pretty quickly if you update this. You can also search for an area. There are some stats shown with the distribution of the growth rates over the last week so you can see how things are going across the whole area. There is a button here to see even more information about the distribution of growth rates (the second screen which is I think fairly self explanatory).

If you tap on an area it will take you a screen with a list of the case numbers for the whole pandemic, rolling 7 day totals and the rate of cases per 100,000 people of that rolling 7 days. At the top it also has indication of number of cases so far in the pandemic and since June (likely Delta variant cases) and the percentage of the population who has had confirmed cases in these time ranges. All this is for the selected age groups which can also be updated on this screen. 

Data Source

All the data is drawn from the UK Government data APIs. Some data is available by browsing the data dashboard but for some of the data there is data downloads or the API to access. The data is licensed under the Open Government Licence.

The population data is downloaded and embedded in the app, the case data updates from the API on launch. This does mean if the API is removed or modified the app will cease to work for new installations and only have the already downloaded data for new installations.

Why can’t I release it?

Apple are only allowing covid related apps to be released by governments, NGOs and some other recognised bodies. I understand the reason for this is to try to ensure that misinformation isn’t spread but it is a shame that it affects a pure data app like this. It would be really hard for App Review to unpick the good and bad apps (and I’m not just saying this because I’m starting work for Apple tomorrow).

If you represent a body that meets Apple’s criteria for publishing Covid related apps and would have an interest in publishing this app do get in touch. It is very likely that I would be willing to transfer the rights for no cost to an appropriate party.