"COVIDSafe is a new tool to help speed up how we notify people exposed to COVID-19 so the health system can protect you, your family and friends." Australian Government Department of Health
COVIDSafe app was launched by the Australian Government Department of Health on 26 April 2020. In it's first week, more than 4 million Australian's downloaded the app.
I have read many technical and personal reviews about the app along with the Government's urgent calls to download it so restrictions can be relaxed.
At such a strange time in all of our lives, I feel that we've never been more divided. Based on what I read online, discussions with friends and family and the comments on my Twitter feed, there seem to be a few common themes:
We've almost eradicated COVID in Australia. Why do we need the app?
Don't trust the government.
Don't understand the app or what it will be used for.
1. Why do we need the app?
Given the COVID19 numbers in Australia (compared to the rest of the world), which are applauded daily from state health officials, are seemingly low.
6,778 confirmed cases in total
5,775 people have recovered
910 active cases
The communication that is received by Australian's is that "we've flattened the curve, well done Australia". This communication contradicts the urgent request to download the tracing app. This has confused people. Most Australian's think COVID19 is over.
2. Don't trust the government
A common theme I hear is that people don't trust the government. I am unsure if that is a distrust for our government in general or distrust in how it will use the information that was provided for the COVIDSafe app. For the most part, the technical analysis I have read about the app has been very positive. Is it simply that we don't trust what we don't understand?
I have said from the beginning, how do you convince an entire country that the preventative measures actually worked? How do you prove that if the government did nothing, we would be in the same dire situation that many countries are facing right now? There will always be people who fully understand and appreciate what we have potentially avoided, then there are the people who think nothing was going to happen here anyway, but we've damaged our economy, jobs have been lost and businesses have been greatly affected for nothing.
I believe this is the exact same scenario with the app. How do you convince a nation to download an app to help save the lives of themselves and their loved ones? If the app is used as a preventing tool (we download it now), we will avoid so much pain. If the app is used as a mitigating tool (people download it when the situation gets out of control), we will have lost our ability to keep ahead of it.
3. Don't understand the app
This theme is a combination of points 1 and 2 and testament to the hundreds of thousands of people asking questions in the past week. People aren't sure what the purpose of it is, and what the ramifications will be if they do or don't download it.
Do people have to keep their phones open and unlocked for the app to work? Will it drain their batteries? Privacy, data, tracking... people want to know. They want assurance.
4. What app?
The theme that I think has been completely missed is the huge group of people that don't know that the app exists. I am referring to people who don't tune into the daily pressers, don't watch any local TV, don't follow main stream media and aren't on the same social platforms that we are on. I've been speaking with the young people in my life and they haven't heard anything about the app. I've been speaking with older people in my life and they are also none the wiser.
Lets engage and educate the people who are unaware of the app. I'm not saying twist their ear and make them download, I'm saying start a conversation. Let them know the app exists.
Parents - talk to your children
Influencers - engage with your followers
Government agencies and businesses - reach out to your customers
Government agencies like Centrelink should be emailing people directly, not taking them down a rabbit hole of logins to different sites and apps - a simple email, with simple instructions on what the app is and a link to download it.
As a country, if we can give people simple, succinct information across all media platforms, give everyone the choice, we will get a better understanding of how well the app is actually going. From what I see in polls, around 60% of people have downloaded the app. 60% of our population is a huge amount, but in my opinion 60% of people who know about it is not so huge.
Thanks for reading. I am Jes from COVID Australia on Twitter and COVID19 in Australia has been my life for 14 weeks! I get asked my opinion a lot and while I normally just stick to the numbers, I thought I'd share my thoughts on COVIDSafe app week 1.