Motivators for use of the COVIDSafe app

17 May 2020

This rapid research brief synthesises the evidence on what motivates people to download and continue to use the COVIDSafe app. 

Key findings:

  • Since launching on 26 April 2020, 5.7 million Australians have downloaded COVIDSafe, the fastest uptake of any app in Australian history (as at 15 May).
  • As a digital aid to manual contact tracing, COVIDSafe offers a potentially valuable supplement to protecting public health in an ongoing epidemic. Similar apps are in use globally.
  • Collective and societal wellbeing are strong motivators for uptake of COVIDSafe, as is the ability to exercise individual choice and control, including to permanently delete the app and its data.
  • Potential barriers to the uptake of COVIDSafe include access, language, trust in government, privacy concerns, and reliability of the technology.
  • The motivation to continue use of COVIDSafe will rely on addressing the above potential barriers as well as demonstrating a positive impact on contact tracing, confidence in government management of further outbreaks, transparency, and effective messaging from community leaders.
  • The success of COVIDSafe will ultimately be measured by the number of positive cases identified and quarantined because of the app and its contribution to containing community spread as lockdown restrictions are relaxed.

Contributing authors
Lead author: Distinguished Professor Genevieve Bell AO FTSE
Lead author: Distinguished Professor Genevieve Bell AO FTSE Florence Violet McKenzie Chair, Director of the Autonomy, Agency & Assurance (3A) Institute, Australian National University
Professor Mark Andrejevic
Professor Mark Andrejevic School of Media, Film, and Journalism, Monash University
Professor Christian Barry FAHA
Professor Christian Barry FAHA School of Philosophy, Australian National University
Image of Professor Helen Christensen AO FASSA FAHMS
Professor Helen Christensen AO FASSA FAHMS Director and Chief Scientist of the Black Dog Institute
Distinguished Professor Larissa Hjorth
Distinguished Professor Larissa Hjorth Director of the Design and Creative Practice ECP Platform, RMIT
Professor Matthew Hornsey FASSA
Professor Matthew Hornsey FASSA School of Business, University of Queensland
Professor Jolanda Jetten FASSA
Professor Jolanda Jetten FASSA Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow, School of Psychology, University of Queensland
Associate Professor Christopher Lawrence
Associate Professor Christopher Lawrence Director of the Centre for Indigenous Technology Research and Development, Faculty of Engineering & Information Technology, University of Technology Sydney
Professor Seth Lazar
Professor Seth Lazar School of Philosophy, Australian National University
Associate Professor Mark Taylor
Associate Professor Mark Taylor Deputy Director of HeLEX@Melbourne, Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne
Peer reviewers
Image of Professor Susan Dodds
Professor Susan Dodds Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Industry Engagement, La Trobe University
Professor Gerard Goggin FAHA
Professor Gerard Goggin FAHA Wee Kim Wee Chair in Communication Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
Dr Melissa Gregg
Dr Melissa Gregg Senior Principal Engineer and Chief Technologist, User Experience & Sustainability, Intel
Professor Katherine Reynolds
Professor Katherine Reynolds Research School of Psychology, College of Health and Medicine, Australian National University

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