New Zealand considers "CovidCard" digital contact tracing option


Among several other digital contact tracing options, the New Zealand government is considering distributing Bluetooth enabled credit card-sized  "CovidCards" to all 5 million New Zealanders. The card solves some problems such as lack of access to or comfort with smartphones for 19% of the population, and opting out would be a simple matter of leaving the card at home.

The private consortium backing the card estimates, based on Singapore's experience and the fact that 51% of smartphone users download no new apps in any given month, that only 20% of New Zealanders would download the app and that therefore only 4% of contacts would be traced. However, the project would cost $100 million.

The card would log close contacts but store, for 30 days, only the ID numbers of the cards it came in contact with. Retail stores, bars, and restaurants could use a reader to log all visitors' cards in case one later tests positive. A government database would hold a central register of card IDs, siloed so the data could not be used for anything other than COVID-19 contact tracing. The card's battery is expected to last 12 months, and the cards would be destroyed after the emergency is over.


Writer: Marc Daalder
Publication: Newsroom

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