The Government’s COVID-19 tracking app is called CovidSafe and is launching today!

Today the Australian Government is launching the smartphone app for Android and iOS to help in the efforts of contact tracing. The app is called CovidSafe and is published by the Australian Department of Health.

A new Government website – https://covidsafe.gov.au/ has been established and provides the link to download the Android and iOS versions of the app, hat tip to Beau Giles for the heads-up.

The website also features a Help page to assist in understanding how the app works and those concerned with privacy, should absolutely take a read. It’s important that factual, technically accurate information is shared around this app, particularly when the health of Australians is concerned.

How does COVIDSafe work?

As you got about your life, Bluetooth your phone is scanning for possible Bluetooth devices to connect to. This unique Bluetooth ID is registered in the app.

If someone tests positive to Coronavirus, State and Territory health officials can check if your phone’s unique Bluetooth ID, is listed as a device that that person was close to. If your phone is on the list, you’ll be notified that you were near someone who has contracted Coronavirus (who also had the COVIDSafe app installed).

What data is collected for COVIDSafe?

After installing the app, you will be asked for the following:

  • Mobile phone number – so that you can be contacted if needed for contact tracing.
  • Name – so the relevant health officials can confirm they are speaking to the right person when performing contact tracing. This will be easiest if you provide your full name, but you can use a pseudonym or fake name if you prefer​.
  • Age range– so health officials can prioritise cases for contact tracing, if needed​​.
  • Postcode –to make sure health officials from the right State or Territory who work in your area can contact you, and to prioritise cases for contact tracing, e.g. hotspot areas.

The app uses a rolling 21-day window to allow for the maximum 14-day incubation period, and the time taken to confirm a positive test result. The rolling 21-day window allows the app to continuously note only those user contacts that occur during the Coronavirus incubation window. Contacts that occurred outside of the 21-day window are automatically deleted from the user’s phone.

This app plays a significant role in Australia’s capacity to return to a more normal lifestyle. By understand when you come into contact with someone with Coronavirus, you can then be tested and quarantine accordingly. While it’ll definitely be disruptive when this occurs, it’s a powerful piece of data that can allow much of society to function again.

The Government had said the app would be open source, to allow security researchers to review the code, but it doesn’t appear that’s going to take place before the launch of the app today.

More information at https://www.covidsafe.gov.au and I’ll be downloading it as soon as its available.

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Jason Cartwright
Jason Cartwrighthttp://techau.com.au/author/jason/
Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis. Disclaimer: Tesla Shareholder from 20/01/2021

411 COMMENTS

  1. Good one Jason- glad you mentioned this. I will download it too! There’s a lot of misinformation and conspiracy theorists on this one!

    • You mean people not willing to trust the government, no conspiracy in that. You know, like trust us we won’t release your metadata.

      • Or trust that the National Firearms Registry wont end up in the hands of thieves, Or that things like Centerlink’s “Robo debt” cant/wont happen. Or that there will “never ever be a GST under a liberal Government” “never ever” Or that kids did in fact go overboard.. or that 6 million people are/were on jobkeeper.. I mean the list goes on and on and on…

        And you wonder why people don’t want to install it.. I mean can that personal info be farmed with bluetooth sniffing I wonder?

      • HAHA comment was removed, but have a look into what happened to the National Firearms Registry. You wont find much but basically this apparently unhackable database (lol) of every gun in the country and how it is stored, and where was stolen within months of its inception.

        Can we trust a Government (no not labor or liberal per se) that promises that there will “Never ever be a GST..” who then goes on to install one as fast as humanly (bureaucratically) possible?

        How about the NSW govt who cant even get community transmission under control pushing to have interstate travel opened up again? They clearly have the best interests of the people of Australia at heart.. lol.

  2. I am trying to download the app. When I put in my details it keeps saying “invalid phone number” when I press Get Pin.

    • You might find that your phones Android version is too old to accept the app. This aspect has not been widely publicised, but I did find a mention of compatibility in fine print in a document when I stated looking for answers. My version is 4.4.2 on a Galaxy Note II. Very frustrating, as I am a strong advocate for the apps use. As with some other apps on Play Store, if your phone is not compatible, such apps will not even come up during a search. The app that you were directed to is probably the WHO app of the same name, which is not a tracing app. I understand that some older versions of IOS are the same.

      • Can confirm the same for 5.1 Android on Galaxy J3 – there will be a significant pool of people in this situation, many in the older age group. Hopefully they can provide a version suitable soon.

      • Yep……My Android Version is too old and am only getting “Your device is not compatible with this version”. Since I’m not going to go out and buy a new phone…….It looks like I’ll have to opt out of this one.

        • Me too. Very disappointing. I would love to download the app but I am not buying a new phone for it. Why didn’t someone think this through? Many of us are not the younger milenials that have to have the latest and greatest technology yesterday, and yet we are probably more at risk than they are and should have a better level of protection. So why do they bring out an app that doesn’t work on our phones?

          Go figure!

          Probably created by a milenial. 🙁

        • I’m getting exactly the same message. (“Your device is not compatible”). I’d like to join in, but there’s no way I’m buying a new phone. Poor planning here by the IT people behind it, who are clearly in their own “we’ve got the latest phones” bubble.

      • Yes, same issue does not come up in Play Store search and if accessed via direct link I am informed that the app is not compatible with my Android 4.4.4 phone. Mirror the frustration of Jeff R – I want to participate!

        • Yes, very frustrating! I have a Huawei Y625 running Android v4.4.2 and an 8″ Samsung “phablet” with the same version OS. I’m in the older age group and I can’t afford a new phone at this time. Also very angry with Commbank for locking us older phone users out of their new version netbank app.