An independent report found that Australia’s COVID-19 contact device, COVIDSafe, did not help the country’s response to the disease.
The Canberra Times received this report, written by consulting firm Abt Associates, in response to a request for information freedom. It covers the March-November 2020 application period.
Working with the Medical Department and Digital Transformation Agency, the mobile app uses the same Bluetooth technology used in trace Together’s contacts in Singapore. As of May of this year, there were more than 7 million app subscribers in the country.
The document states that the application “caused” problems and weaknesses “for those checking government contacts to access information, such as entering data from a mirror into a system or a newsletter. Some tracers revealed to the researchers that the app extended the hunting process by two hours.
According to Canberra Times, the report also shows that the app is not useful in critical environments such as indoor areas with large outdoor events.
Within the six months mentioned, less than 2% of all contacts from COVID-19 patients were positive in New South Wales, where no new contact was found in Victoria and Queensland.
The review later revealed that the government is considering options to increase contact tracing and identify performance barriers that hamper its effectiveness and performance, including manual shortcomings, lack of location data, and a “crooked” system that increases accountability for a small reward.
WHY IT IS IMPORTANT
Concerns have been raised as to whether $ 8 million in COVIDSafe has been successfully funded by taxpayers. The federal government admitted in a 12-month review of the application that it was “rarely” used for low COVID-19 counts in Australia, as well as the “effectiveness of our contact system.”
For the government, however, the app remains an “essential addition to the tools available to support the ongoing contact tracing process”.
In the United States, according to a survey by Avira’s security software provider last year, about 70 percent of Americans have not detected the download or use of the COVID-19 contact software, citing privacy and security concerns.
Another U.S. study published in May this year showed little American support for the use of digital data for COVID-19 plans, such as contact hunting.