A Tale of Two Contact-Tracing Apps – Comparing Australia’s COVIDSafe and New Zealand’s NZ COVID Tracer

13 Pages Posted: 15 Jun 2020

See all articles by Bronwyn E. Howell

Bronwyn E. Howell

Victoria University of Wellington - School of Management

Petrus H. Potgieter

University of South Africa; Institute for Technology and Network Economics

Date Written: May 28, 2020

Abstract

The Australian and New Zealand governments have recently released smartphone-based apps to complement contact tracing in the event that they face a resurgence of COVID-19 infections. The apps form part of both countries' policies to support a return to social and economic engagement following extended lockdowns. Using process mapping and analysis, we evaluate the potential of the two apps to improve the performance of existing contact tracing systems across a range of efficiency and effectiveness criteria. We find that the Bluetooth-based Australian app appears likely to assist that country's contact tracing system to perform performing more efficiently and effectively in the event of a resurgence of the virus, and should increase confidence in re-engagement. The New Zealand QR code-based app, however, is not well-aligned with these objectives. Its interaction with a range of other regulations and obligations, combined with the high operational costs it imposes on its users, is likely to militate against its use. Its focus on business locations rather than contact between individuals risks information overload for contact tracers if a resurgence should arise, while it fails to capture information from personal interactions between strangers taking place in locations where QR codes cannot be acquired or displayed, but which are likely to be high-risk in the event of a resurgence. The latter may significantly constrain the development of individual confidence to re-engage. Our analysis suggests that in the international context, Bluetooth-based apps based on interactions between individuals likely better support these population-based objectives than QR code-based location-specific apps.

Note: Funding: We received no funding from any organisation for this research

Declaration of Interest: We have no conflicts of interest to declare in regard to this research.

Keywords: COVID-19, contact tracing, health informatics, NZ COVID Tracer, COVIDSafe

Suggested Citation

Howell, Bronwyn E. and Potgieter, Petrus H., A Tale of Two Contact-Tracing Apps – Comparing Australia’s COVIDSafe and New Zealand’s NZ COVID Tracer (May 28, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3612596 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3612596

Bronwyn E. Howell

Victoria University of Wellington - School of Management ( email )

Wellington 6001
New Zealand
+64 4 463 5563 (Phone)
+64 4 463 5566 (Fax)

Petrus H. Potgieter (Contact Author)

University of South Africa ( email )

P.O. Box 392
UNISA
Pretoria, Gauteng 0003
South Africa
+27 12 433 4622 (Phone)

Institute for Technology and Network Economics ( email )

Posbus 2015
Groenkloof, 0027
South Africa

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