OPSI COVID-19 Innovative Response Tracker

Australia’s contact tracing app COVIDSafe

Innovative response

Australia have created a voluntary contact tracing app called COVIDsafe.

The COVIDSafe smartphone app uses a Bluetooth wireless signal to exchange a "digital handshake" with another user when they come within 1.5m. The app then logs this contact and encrypts it. Users will be notified if they have had more than 15 minutes of close contact with another user who tests positive.

Amid privacy concerns about who will have access to the app's stored data, the government said only state health authorities would qualify. The data will be stored in Australia, and the health minister said "not even a court order" would allow other authorities such as the police to access it.

The app asks users to supply their age range, a mobile number, a post code and a name - which can be a pseudonym.

The government said all data would be wiped after 21 days, or when someone deleted the app from their phone.

Specific issues addressed and anticipated impact

Contact tracing is an important element to managing the virus, especially as countries emerge from the crisis. Contact tracing apps, such as this, will therefore become important tools for governments in this.

Organisations/institutions involved

Australian Department of Health

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Issues being addressed:

  • Patient care
  • Information and practice sharing (with public and/or internal)
  • Resource management and mobilisation
  • Real-time data collection, sharing, and analysis