Let me start by once applauding the governments effort in the battle against COVID-19 . This post is not a criticism of the PM or her governments efforts. It is also not me bagging a “competitor”.
It is merely a commentary on the fact that in battling this pandemic we are seeing mixed messages which will not aid the fight, but rather it will muddy the waters and make it harder for the public and in particular businesses to assist the government in this battle.
Yesterday the PM announced that on Wednesday the Government will launch a National “Contact Tracing App” that is not actually an app but rather a “digital dairy”?
Yet today the so called “dairy” app was released to the Google Play store and Apple AppStore ahead on tomorrows big release announcement and unfortunately , like many aspects of the governments messaging around the Contact Tracing process the reality does not match the PR.
During yesterdays press conference the PM stated:
“It will let people keep track of their movements. It is a “digital diary” to aid manual contact tracing efforts”
It is not a “digital diary” but rather it is a check in app which depends on users downloading and installing the app. A process as I cover below is not simple or straight forward.
Most of the currently available solutions, already being used by businesses do not require an app to be installed. They simply use the phones camera/QR reader or browser to record the visit and then they store this data securely. The businesses using these solutions are already being proactive inn this battle.
“The data would be stored in users’ devices”
Really? Why then do I get this message in the app? The app’s privacy statement states otherwise. Also if the data is stored on the users phone and not shared with the MOH, how will this help anyone contact trace a visitor?
At least with most of the current apps the data is stored on secure servers and could be shared with MOH by the business in the case of an issue arising.
- It is an app the user must install on their phone. This means that if you arrive arrive at a location which has the QR code and you do not have the app you will need to download it while you are waiting to enter. Even when you do try to sign up you have to wait for an email to receive your verification code.
- With MyVisitorLog there is nothing t install.
- What if I go somewhere with my App and the venue does not have the QR Code. Do I tell them they have to get one, do I refuse to enter or do I go i and hope that there isn’t anyone in there who shouldn’t be.
- What if I don’t have a phone – do I have to use another method.
- MyVisitorLog has a “reception/concierge” mode which allow a staff member at the venue to check a visitor in.
- What if I am with a group of people and only one of has a phone. – Can only one of the group enter.
- MyVisitorLog allows a visitor to add/note other members of the group who don’t have a phone or can’t check in
- What if if I am a member of the generation who does not know what an App is (the demographic most at risk)
- MyVisitorLog uses a QR code scanned with the phones camera or it can be accessed via the browser
- What about my kids who don’t have a phone – Do I leave them outside.
- MyVisitorLog allows a parent or caregiver to check dependents in when they are checking in themselves
- The download requires you to install a 10 – 50mb file on your phone – what if you don’t have access to data on your phone
- MyVisitorLog does not require the user or business to install anything
- What is the sign up/ install process like? – You only have to read some of the app reviews to know what it is like. These are reviews from people who care enough to give it a try:
Read more review here – https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=nz.govt.health.covidtracer&showAllReviews
What about the businesses who are currently using paper logs?
It requires these businesses to have a QR code in place when the visitor arrives. If they weren’t doing it before, why would they do it now?
“Concern had been raised about a fragmented system that could undermine trust and transparency”
Will this do anything to reduce the fragmentation – I doubt it.
“The new digital diary app would provide “national consistency” to help New Zealanders record where they’ve been and when”
No it won’t because that would require the entire population to use this app and that won’t happen.
“That’s just really responding to some of the concerns I’ve heard and seen, some people don’t want to fill in a paper-based form that will sit in a public place.
There will still be the need for paper logs to deal with issues mentioned above.
As I said earlier it is a nice try but there are too many fishhooks in this app and the processes to make it a success and if it isn’t successfully used by a large number of people it will not work. To make it worse the government has said this is a “temporary” solution until they create something else?
“Others have concerns using apps provided by businesses”
Despite these theoretical concerns, they would have been better to work with the NZ tech businesses who have already created Contact Tracing tools which are being used by NZ businesses, to help make their Contact Tracing processes better. By working withe these tech business they could help make them and this would provide tools the market will use. Getting buy in from the businesses already making an effort is a faster and better model than this.
Finally, the real kicker
As I said – Nice Try , but no cigar.