Almost one third of the seven million Australians who downloaded the Covidsafe app haven’t up to date to the latest model, as new figures present the federal government spend on the contact tracing app has risen to $14m.
The Covidsafe contact tracing app depends on as many individuals as attainable working it, however new information reveals that greater than two million customers would not have essentially the most up-to-date model.
Within the 9 months for the reason that federal authorities launched the app, it has solely identified 17 close contacts that weren’t discovered by way of guide contact tracing strategies, all of them in New South Wales.
A part of the explanation for the app’s lack of success in figuring out contacts may very well be that just about one third may very well be utilizing an older model, if they’re nonetheless utilizing the app. Since April, there have been a dozen software program updates pushed out to repair bugs, safety flaws, and make the app work extra successfully on iPhones when the display is locked.
The Digital Transformation Company – which is answerable for the event of the app – instructed a Senate estimates committee in response to questions on discover that as of the top of October final 12 months, 66% of customers had essentially the most up-to-date model, together with 63% of iPhone customers, and 74% of Android customers.
Guardian Australia has requested DTA whether or not this determine had modified previously few months. The Covidsafe app routinely sends push notifications telling customers to “enhance the efficiency of the app” by opening the app and guaranteeing the cellphone is related to the web.
Labor’s performing shadow communications minister, Tim Watts, mentioned the federal government ought to have been urging folks to replace the app from the beginning.
“As a substitute they rushed the rollout as a result of Scott Morrison wished an announcement to beat the Apple and Google options and refuse to confess they bungled it,” he mentioned.
“Seven million Australians did their bit and downloaded the app, however 2.1 million of them are at the moment left uncovered within the solar as a result of Scott Morrison doesn’t wish to look unhealthy politically.”
The company was additionally requested in Senate estimates how lots of the 7.1 million who downloaded the app initially continued to run it on their telephones, however the company claimed it didn’t report such info.
“At current, the DTA doesn’t measure energetic customers as a result of, as required below the Privateness Affect Evaluation, the DTA doesn’t monitor details about which customers have the app open and working, or the place any customers are situated.”
Nevertheless, the DTA does get common analytics and utilization information experiences, together with info on the variety of customers working the app. Final 12 months DTA refused a freedom of data request from Guardian Australia for this info on the grounds it might compromise public safety. Guardian Australia has appealed the choice.
DTA denied it had misled the Senate, telling Guardian Australia the knowledge offered was right.
The app has up to now price $7.1m to develop and run, with the biggest share of the cash going to Amazon which was paid $2.4m for skilled companies, improvement and ongoing utilization charges. Know-how consultants Shine Options has acquired $1.9m, whereas tech corporations Delv earned $1.7m, Cevo $1m, and Boston Consulting Group $800,000.
The division of well being additionally instructed Senate estimates that it has spent $6.9 m on promoting the app, taking the whole price of the app to $14m.
When the app was launched, prime minister Scott Morrison referred to the app as a type of “sunscreen” essential to have in place earlier than easing restrictions. Nevertheless, contact tracing apps have had restricted success the world over. Many jurisdictions, together with in Australia have adopted QR code venue check-ins as a greater strategy to preserve monitor of the place folks have been.
Many tech specialists have argued that the Australian authorities ought to change to an Apple-Google publicity notification framework to repair points with Covidsafe, however the authorities has up to now resisted.
Authorities companies minister Stuart Robert mentioned the federal government was involved the Apple/Google model would bypass contact tracers, as a result of the app’s default is to alert shut contacts instantly.
The framework can, nonetheless, be modified to permit the contact particulars of customers – with their consent – to be offered to contact tracers within the occasion they’re recognized as an in depth contact.
The BBC reported earlier this week that solely about two in 5 folks in Scotland who examined optimistic to Covid-19 and had the Shield Scotland app – which makes use of the Apple/Google publicity notification framework – had chosen to alert their shut contacts by way of the app.