There are five million New Zealanders. The COVID 19 app has privacy concerns. It also seems to be less than easy to use.
The MoH COVID Tracer app is a total failure. They were too slow. Most places I go to in Wellington have already adopted a plethora of other platforms, making it a weird and confusing mission to figure out which data-hoarding app I have to scan the QR with.
— Callum McMenamin (@cal_mcm) May 25, 2020
The launch of the Government's NZ COVID Tracer app has been met with a number of complaints since its release, with some New Zealanders reporting faulty QR codes and bugs in the software.
The app, launched on Wednesday, creates a 'digital diary' of the places Kiwis visit by scanning QR codes displayed at the entrances to various places. Any information recorded with the app will be stored securely on the user's phone and deleted automatically after 31 days.
During Tuesday's daily press briefing, Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield confirmed that roughly 405,000 New Zealanders have downloaded the app, which is designed to help with contact tracing efforts. Contact tracing allows contacts of an existing case to be found quickly and efficiently, ensuring they are tested and self-isolate.
About 15,500 businesses have generated an official QR code poster for customers to scan so far, although the Ministry of Health is encouraging all businesses to have a poster in-store.
However, some New Zealanders say they are having difficulty scanning the codes, leading to frustration among app users. Other common complaints include issues with registration.
The numbers are nice but they are not adequate. This functionally means that any contact tracing is manual. We are being asked to note where we went, who we met, and at what time. To be given to contact tracers on request. Yeah... in NZ,,, right.
Victoria University computer scientist Simon McCallum said he expected download numbers to be high but so far, they were not good enough.
“You’d want around 1 million to 2 million people to have downloaded the app before you could start saying that you’re fairly confident everyone is recording where they went,” he said.
But University of Auckland research fellow Dr Andrew Tzer-Yeu Chen said New Zealand was going to be a country led by manual contact tracing, not an automated system with the Bluetooth proximity tracking.
“Overseas the estimates are around 60 percent of the population needing to have the app, so in NZ even a very low number will be good,” he said.
Screenshots from the iOS version of the NZ COVID Tracer app from the Ministry of Health.
Singapore has been using a bluetooth app called TraceTogether, which logs contacts who come within two metres of each other, and Australia uses a similar app called Covidsafe.
In Singapore, one in four people – 25 per cent of the population – have downloaded TraceTogether since it launched in late March.
Australia's uptake of Covidsafe is 24 per cent, with six million downloads out of a total population of 25 million.
Two million of those downloads were in the first 24 hours of its launch on April 26, according to overseas news reports.
The best laid plans will fall apart without a large number of people agreeing. Tight societies can do this: I am not sure if a multicultural society can ever be tight enough.
It has not gone well> Kiwis know that there are a handful of active cases in NZ. They simply, at this time, won't bother.