Friday Reflection: In defence of the COVIDsafe app

‘We should be critical of people who ignore social distancing guidelines, not the app.’

COVIDSafe app

We recently published an article that was critical of the COVIDsafe app, which had not identified close contacts of anyone infected with coronavirus that manual tracing had not found. YourLifeChoices member Geoffrey Williams took umbrage with the article and wrote this in defence of the app.


I think the COVID app was an excellent idea, and its ongoing use should be encouraged and not criticised. I uploaded it in the first week. It would be even more helpful if the app worked on older version mobiles, as my wife's phone can't download it.

It is an indication of Australia's overall good management of COVID that the app has not identified any more people than manual tracing. Let's hope this continues.

However, if community spreading increases, as it is doing in Melbourne, the ability to manually trace everyone might fail. That is when the COVID app will come into its own.

I think it is counter-productive to criticise the app because that might affect its ongoing uptake by more people – when it is perhaps more likely to be needed.

It doesn't hurt to have the app, and it was a good effort in the early days to try to find a techno method of assisting traces so we could ease the restrictions.

I don't remember reading any comment that manual tracing picked up contacts that the app did not register. If that does happen, then perhaps the parameters of the app could be changed to register contacts of less than 15 minutes. It might not always take that long for someone to be sneezed on by an infected person in a public area.

I would be very interested to read more articles that criticise people who deliberately ignore social distancing guidelines. Their reckless arrogance is causing a public menace and they should be shamed, particularly in Melbourne at present. Their behaviour is verging on criminal intent to harm society by ignoring health advice to save innocent people they come near.

I would prefer you to criticise people who are deliberately doing the wrong thing, rather than undermining good ideas that are being used to try to help people.

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    10th Jul 2020
    Is the app working? What proof do we have that we can see as user’s!
    10th Jul 2020
    Good question. We don't seem to have any proof that it has worked at all. Surely if it had produced results the government would be pushing us all to take it up.
    10th Jul 2020
    You want the app, great. Logical and sensible if you live is a city full of ignorant folk who do not see or understand the problem, but if you live in a regional area, or in the bush, why bother? If you live in NT or Tas or WA or SA or anywhere where there is no CV19, it is pointless (at present).

    If I trusted the government, trusted the idiot minister, trusted the technology and trusted most of our politicians, then I would put it on, except it doesn't work on my phone.

    The concept is good, the execution lousy. By the way, it works for scaring away elephants. Haven't seen one for ages.
    10th Jul 2020
    Do you usually see pink elephants. They're the ones to worry about.
    10th Jul 2020
    Taking Geoffrey's point of view on the app, I agree that it was intended to help. The worst thing in my opinion was the double standards that allowed all those people to attend rallies across the country, breaking the social distancing rules and not a single person was fined. I believe that the spread is in partly caused by this protest and the stupid people that where part of it !
    Carol Christopher
    10th Jul 2020
    Thanks for speakeing up, Geoffrey Williams. Usually, the idiots on the left are the ones that criticise the app, but give illegal, idiotic Black Life Matters marchers or Daniel Andrews no criticism.

    I noticed the biased conservative free ABC were on the bandwagon. They were useless as usual, as never said if the app had been downloaded by those who got and passed on the virus, nor if contact tracing had found any the app had missed.
    11th Jul 2020
    The criticism has nothing to do with the 'left', black lives matter, or the ABC. The fact is It does not work as intended.
    11th Jul 2020
    Funny everything gets blamed on "the left".
    In the government information released on virus transmission no cases have been linked to the demonstrations at all.
    10th Jul 2020
    In case you needed any proof why nobody has downloaded it:

    A Melbourne web app developer claims failings in the Government’s COVID-19 tracking app have “dangerously exposed” him and his 15 staff to the wildly infectious disease.

    Anushka Banbara said he and all of his workers were forced to get tested for coronavirus immediately when one of his employees came into close contact with a positive case on June 25.

    Mr Banbara said his staff member was out for dinner with two others at a Caulfield restaurant for more than an hour.

    “The next day my worker was told by one of his dinner guests there had been a positive case at his gym and he needed to be tested for COVID-19. That person and then my staff member tested positive,” he said.

    In that time, Mr Banbara’s team had worked together in their Clayton office, but no one else tested positive.

    COVIDSafe, which was made available to Australians in April, was developed to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

    Once installed, the app uses Bluetooth to check if any other phones with the app installed are within 1.5m of you.

    When two phones detect each other they exchange a “digital handshake” meaning each device shares an anonymous ID to log the close contact.

    The data is sent to a national store where, if someone reports positive, health officials then phone contacts to tell them they may have been exposed to coronavirus.

    But Mr Banbara said he and none of his staff had been contacted by any health authorities.

    “We have all been together for longer than 15 minutes and all had the tracking app, but still to this day we have had no communication from the government or the contact tracking team,” he said.

    “We work in a tech space so we trust the technology will work but instead we’ve been put at risk by this app, which was promised to work, but clearly doesn’t.”

    A government official admitted in May that the app doesn’t work properly for iPhone users and its effectiveness “progressively deteriorates” the longer it is not open.

    Victoria recorded 288 new infections on Friday, the biggest daily increase anywhere in Australia since the pandemic started.

    The state’s total is at 3397, with active COVID-19 cases surging past 1000, Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed.

    Originally published as Proof virus tracking app doesn’t work.
    11th Jul 2020
    It may well have been created (at great expense) with good intent. The point is it has not worked. Social distancing and masks are the best approach, you cannot argue with that.
    11th Jul 2020
    As a retired computer expert age 70+ I am also the most at risk for dying fro Covid-19.
    I can say the tracking project was ill conceived and botched from the start.
    That the app does not work with older phones that the most at risk elderly tend to have is bordering on the criminal.
    Yes I too have a phone that does not work with the app.
    Another classic IT failure wasting millions of taxpayer money
    11th Jul 2020
    If the app was producing the tremendous results that Scomo predicted at its launch, he would be shouting it out from the rooftops. He been mysteriously quiet about the app for weeks now. Wonder why?
    11th Jul 2020
    Well what's a couple of million down the drain. It was never going to work.
    Sharon S. Harvey
    18th Nov 2020
    [a href=]good[/a]

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