Smart phone contact tracing apps mostly ignored, unused

In reality, adoption of contract tracing apps by citizens was largely sporadic and unenthusiastic. A trio of researchers in Australia decided to explore why contract tracing apps weren’t more widely adopted. Their results, published on 23 December in IEEE Software, emphasize the importance of social factors such as trust and transparency.

Source: Why Aren’t COVID Tracing Apps More Widely Used? – IEEE Spectrum

Big reasons cited by the study:

  • Lack of trust in tech
  • Lack of trust in public health
  • Lack of trust in government

There are a host of problems with the Bluetooth-based tech. Some use network-side tracking (most countries) but some like the US and the UK would use Bluetooth due to legal and privacy issues on the network side.

I wrote a lot about these apps in the past. I have yet to see evidence that Bluetooth-based radio signal strength measurements are anything but error prone when used in the real world. Plus, they cannot detect contacts “across time” – that is, person with Covid gets off bus, you board and sit in their seat. The BT systems cannot detect this surface and airspace contact. One study found a 40+% false positive rate, others found high false negatives, for example. Others found decreased battery life of their smart phones, and many privacy questions, particularly about network-side tracking but I identified privacy issues even with anonymous Bluetooth methods.