Tap-and-go trial for Covid Tracer app

Jacob Johnson
Source: 1News

Health officials are trialling tap-and-go technology for the NZ COVID Tracer app at Victoria University of Wellington.

It's the same technology used for contactless payments, automatically opening the app when you hold your phone near a small tag.

Rachel Anderson-Smith, who manages the disabilty services at the university, says some people find it difficult to sign in using the QR codes.

"Just kind of lining it up, particularly if you have a vision or mobility disability, so we gave some feedback to the Ministry of Health around that."

Officials hope it'll encourage more people to keep track of where they've been.

In a statement, the Ministry of Health said it hopes the tags "will make the app easier for some people who currently find it difficult or cumbersome to scan in."

In the week before the country went into lockdown, on average there were just over 580,000 scans per day.

That's now shot up to around 2.5 million, matching the rates of August and September last year, during the country's second wave of community cases.

Covid-19 tap in tags trial.

Auckland University's Andrew Chen, a researcher from Koi Tū: The Centre for Informed Futures, says the tags aren't a "game changer", but expects scanning rates to remain high for some time.

"Now that we're moving past elimination and to this slightly different strategy, probably people will be a bit more on alert tham they would be in an environment where there are genuinely zero cases every day, and so it may still drop off, but it might take a little longer than it has in the past."

He says even as vaccination rates climb, scanning will remain an important tool when it comes to cutting off chains of transmission.

"Contact tracing isn't going away, even when some of the other interventions like face masks might drop off, contact tracing is probably going to be one of those that sticks around.

The Victoria University tap-and-go trial will run for another week, and will inform a plan for any further rollouts around New Zealand.