What Went Wrong with the COVIDSAFE App and How to Avoid It in Your Digital Transformation

What Went Wrong with the COVIDSAFE App and How to Avoid It in Your Digital Transformation

Remember the COVIDSAFE App that promised to transform the way Australia would manage our Covid-19 outbreaks?

It hasn’t been mentioned by government officials in months, despite multiple lockdowns across the country, and QR codes have quickly become the go-to method to assist contact tracing.

Launched on the 26th of April 2020, from the beginning, the app was not what the public had hoped. In July 2020, the Labor Party’s health spokesperson claimed the app had “…played no role in effectively finding anybody who’s been exposed to COVID19…this is a $2 million failure.”

More recently, the Health Minister for Victoria, Martin Foley, was asked if the COVIDSAFE app had been used at all in contact tracing in the state. His answer demonstrated just how uncommon the use of the app has become, informing the press: “Not to my knowledge…And I’m sure such a rare event would be brought to my attention.”

The COVIDSAFE development and rollout to date cost around $6.5million, with an additional $100,000 a month in ongoing costs. This is a significant investment of taxpayer money that has all but gone to waste, with a spokesperson from the Health Department confirming to ABC that the COVIDSAFE app has not identified any close contacts in Victoria or NSW that weren’t already discovered through interviews and other records.

So, what went wrong with COVIDSAFE?

The COVIDSAFE app made the same classic mistakes that many digital ventures get trapped in, with over 70% of digital initiatives failing to reach their goals. In today’s article, we will discuss these errors, and what you can do to ensure that your business avoids the path taken by COVIDSAFE.

 

Define Your Business Goals & Intended Outcomes

Before taking the first steps in your digital transformation, it is essential to outline what you want your business to look like after the makeover of your operations. What are your goals for your digital transformation? What is your capacity for change? What outcomes are non-negotiable for the digital transformation process to be considered a success? In answering these questions, your implementation of digital initiatives is more likely to be successful, and the process itself will be a lot smoother. Single Source works with our clients to ensure that you have clear aims from the outset and have all the tools to achieve them.

Where COVIDSAFE failed: From the beginning, the main issue with the COVIDSAFE for the public was that they didn’t want to share their personal data with the government. Only 16% of the Australian population downloaded the app. This is largely due to the app being considered as a breach of their privacy. If the government had been able to define how the data would be used, the excellent advantage it would give us in contact tracing, and what it meant in the context of how much data is collected about them by other apps, they may have seen much higher usage. Their failure to do so demonstrates the importance of communicating your intended outcomes

 

Prioritise Customer Experience  

If your clients have a positive experience when using your digital systems, this will set you apart from your competition. User experience cannot be underestimated when it comes to customer satisfaction and their decision to purchase.

An incredibly useful article from the Harvard Business Review, makes the excellent point that customer experience really needs to be designed from the “outside in.” The article goes on to suggest:

“Leaders often expect that the implementation of one single tool or app will enhance customer satisfaction on its own. However… the best way to maximise customer satisfaction is often to make smaller-scale changes to different tools at different points of the service cycle.”

Essentially, it is often detrimental to change your entire system all at once. First, you need to conduct thorough research on how your customers would like to see your digital systems improve and ease in these changes.

Single Source prioritises user experience in all technology implemented for our clients. Whether the digital initiatives are being utilised by your employees or your clients, ease of use is imperative. For this reason, we build customised digital platforms tailored to our client’s exact needs.

Where COVIDSAFE failed: Many complained that the COVIDSAFE user experience was not up to scratch for the amount of money directed towards its development. Ultimately, the demographic most at risk in the community are also the least technologically literate. Therefore, the app should have been as straightforward as possible to use. This was not the experience for many, and the government made no alteration to the app based on input from the public. As a result, only 40% of people who downloaded the app actually use it effectively, indicating that people are dissuaded after downloading the app and having a bad experience with the user experience.

 

Generate Trust in the New Technology

Your business can generate trust in the new technology implemented within the digital transformation in many different ways. Single Source can guide you through each step to ensure an easy transition. However, at the root of them all is adaptability. Listen to your customers, listen to your staff, and understand what is working and what isn’t. If those involved can trust that the technology is working for them, not the other way around, you will build the credibility essential to seeing your processes run smoothly.

This needs to go hand-in-hand with thorough initial training for your employees using the new digital initiatives, and ongoing check-ins with how they are managing the changes. Single Source can assist your business in implementing these training phases.

Where COVIDSAFE failed: There were many aspects of the COVIDSAFE app that failed to generate trust, including the user experience, the misinformation surrounding the use of data, and the overall confusing government messaging. However, central to the mistrust was their failure to adapt. They didn’t adapt their marketing strategies when they weren’t working, and they failed to evolve along with the changing variants of the virus. If they had demonstrated their ability to keep up with the public’s concerns and change when it was called for, the app might have seen better success.

 

Work with an Expert

Digital transformation is not a one-size-fits-all process. Every business has different needs, and it is essential to work with an expert to implement new technology to result in a tangible increase in efficiency, productivity and safety. Single Source specialises in bringing Australian businesses the latest data aggregation technology to optimise their operations. To learn more about the services that Single Source provides, please see our home page.

Where COVIDSAFE failed: Obviously, the government should have had the best minds continuously working on the COVIDSAFE app. In the beginning, this was undoubtedly the case. However, since its inception in 2020, the technology has not been updated. The parameters that it uses to identify close contacts are no longer necessarily useful when it comes to the much more contagious Delta variant.

At present, to be considered a “close contact” recognised by the app, you need to be within 1.5 metres of the contact for at least 15 minutes. Expert epidemiologist and advisor to the World Health Organisation, Mary-Louise McLaws, has confirmed that the 15-minute feature of the app is “useless” against the Delta variant, which can spread through “fleeting exposure.” Essentially, experts have now found that Delta can be caught just from walking past someone contagious.

Professor of Infectious Diseases at James Cook University, Emma McBryde, has confirmed that the exposure window should be cut down to a maximum of 5 minutes to be helpful in tracing Delta transmission.

However, despite these recommendations and continuous modelling, the government has not made any changes to the app. Therefore, the data scientists and contact tracing experts have stopped working with the COVIDSAFE app and moved to utilise the information collected from QR codes and other sources.

 

Single Source will Streamline your Digital Transformation

Single Source provides customised data aggregation solutions for industries including, Logistics, Mining, Construction, Oil & Gas, and Facility Management. If you are interested in improving the technological capabilities of your business, increasing your level of automation, and utilising data to streamline your processes, please do not hesitate to get in touch at our Contact Page.

6 September 2021
The term 'data aggregation' may sound like perplexing technical jargon to those new to the topic. However,.....
11 February 2021