The article chosen for analysis is “NHS Contact-tracing App Released in England and Wales” by Sara Rigby, and it appeared on Science Focus magazine on September 24, 2020. The technology presented in the article is the “NHS Contact-Tracing App”, which is being used for contact tracing among people living in the UK. The author framed the technology in the article objectively without airing personal opinions. She starts by noting how the app will play a central role in the fight against Covid-19 by quoting the Health Secretary who called the development “an important step forward in our fight against the invisible killer” (Rigby, 2020, para. 1). The author then follows this introduction by noting that the app’s rollout was delayed due to many lingering questions concerning its effectiveness given that such apps had already been developed and deployed in other countries with mixed results.
Rigby mentions NHS Test and Trace, which is a government-funded service in the UK and responsible for the development of the app, and other organizations including Virgin Mobile, Sky Mobile, Tesco Mobile, giffgaff, O2, EE, and Vodafone. These network carriers have agreed to zero-rate data charges that customers would incur due to activities associated with the app, which means it would be free to use the app.
The author takes enough space to explain how the app works aided by a flow chart showing the various stages involved from downloading the app to the final stages on how data is collected and shared. According to the author, the app was developed in London and piloted in the same area in addition to Isle of Wight whereby residents in these areas together with NHS volunteers trial tested the latest version to ensure if effectiveness. While the author does not delve into the ethical issues surrounding the app, she notes that personal information is not collected. To this end, Rigby explains how the app works using Bluetooth to “keep an anonymous log of people a user has been close to. It does this by exchanging randomized keys while the Bluetooth signal strength measures proximity” (Rigby, 2020, para. 6). The author then explains how an individual could benefit from the information presented in the app.
The article is written objectively with the author avoiding inserting subjective sentiments about her opinions concerning the app. The language used is also simple and straightforward for the majority of readers to understand. The targeted audience is the general public, which is also the target market for the app, and thus anyone who can read the English language can understand the contents of the article. This approach achieves one major objective of communication, which is to pass clear and precise information to the intended audience. The information contained in this article is about a Covid-19 app and since this is a sensitive topic seeking to educate the public, the author good results by communicating in a way that almost everyone can understand.
Additionally, the article is short and to the point and thus it does not burden readers with unnecessary information. This approach allowed the author to achieve her objective, which was primarily to create awareness to the public by making readers aware of the existence of the new app that could save millions of lives if used. The app is open-source meaning that anyone could access, download it, and leverage its usefulness in the fight against coronavirus. In summary, the article is well written by focusing on the most important information without being subjective.
Rigby, S. (2020). NHS contact-tracing app released in England and Wales. Science Focus.