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A tale of two contact-tracing apps – comparing Australia’s CovidSafe and New Zealand’s NZ Covid Tracer
journal contributionposted on 2022-04-10, 23:14 authored by Bronwyn HowellBronwyn Howell, PH Potgieter
Purpose: The Australian and New Zealand governments have 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. This paper aims to investigate the extent to which the two approaches are fit for purpose and compare their functional characteristics. Design/methodology/approach: Using process mapping and analysis, this paper evaluates the potential of the two apps to improve the performance of existing contact tracing systems across a range of efficiency and effectiveness criteria with an emphasis on the framework proposed by Verrall (2020). Findings: The Bluetooth-based Australian app appears likely to assist that country’s contact tracing system to perform 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 inconvenience it imposes on its users, is likely to militate against its use. Bluetooth-based apps based on interactions between individuals likely better support these population-based objectives than QR code-based location-specific apps. Originality/value: This paper provides an original and extensive analysis of the functionality and effectiveness of Australia and New Zealand’s official contact-tracing apps.