Home Tech News Here’s why people refuse to use COVID-19 tracing apps

Here’s why people refuse to use COVID-19 tracing apps

by admin

For about a month now, I’ve had the government’s official COVID Alert app installed on my phone. It is active and monitoring. Each week I get a notification telling me I haven’t had contact with anybody who tested positive for the coronavirus.

That’s good news but it isn’t too surprising.

First of all, I work from home and barely leave the house. But I do so occasionally to get a haircut and buy some groceries.

Second, even if one of the people I have had contact with was infected, I would only find out if they either have the app installed or they enter their positive result into their app.

Both of those steps lower the chances of the app doing its job. In its first month, there were only 2.2 million downloads and 90 infections. As we confront the second wave of COVID-19 infections, how do we change that?


I work with many entrepreneurs through the Creative Destruction Lab at the University of Toronto and we know that getting people to download an app can be challenging. They have to know about it. They have to remember to download it. And they have to remember to set it up.

Invariably, what we try to do is get people who like an app to tell others to use the app too. These social referrals sometimes work on their own and in other cases, incentives are given such as a discount on services sold through the app.

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Ironically, to encourage people to download the COVID Alert app, we want to use viral processes as we’re attempting to contain an actual virus. And, yes, that’s a challenge because many of these app downloads are driven by people sharing thoughts when they are together — and most of us are living in relative isolation at the moment.