NZ COVID Tracer App

  • 2020

    Submission # 182

  • Output

    Digital Design – Toi Matihiko

  • Kaupapa

    Impact – Social Good

    Identity – Politics & Action

  • Location


Project Overview:
As New Zealand entered its first pandemic lockdown in 2020, the Ministry of Health chose to partner with RUSH on a technology solution to help contact tracers break the chain of COVID-19 transmission.

Successful virus control is directly related to the speed at which contact tracers can reach individuals who may have come into contact with COVID-19 and effective contact tracing is a key part of New Zealand’s COVID-19 elimination strategy.

The New Zealand ‘go hard and go early’ response included a quick and informed technology approach, combined with a unified Government and media communication, which contributed to the country stopping the spread of COVID-19.

RUSH CEO, Pavan Vyas, got a team into a room and asked them to work on technology solutions for COVID-19, which may help save lives. The team got committed quickly and started to develop prototypes around testing, symptom reporting and tracing.

The prototypes that we had developed allowed us to demonstrate to the NZ Government how consumer technology could play a part in response to the crisis. So when we were engaged by the Ministry of Health, we could move into execution quickly.

Working closely with Ministry teams, the free NZ COVID Tracer app and QR code generator were designed, developed and launched in six weeks to empower and protect citizens.

In regards to the UI, we’d like to acknowledge the team at Clemenger BBDO for developing the distinct Unite Against COVID-19 brand identity.

It was an anxious time during Feb 2020 when New Zealand’s COVID-19 cases were doubling every three days.

RUSH was immersed in the problem space – we learnt whatever we could by speaking to people in public health about the operational implications, frontline health workers about their safety, New Zealanders about their COVID test experiences and connecting with the international tech community working on the problem.

We read about the latest public health advice from the WHO and the New Zealand Ministry of Health, how contract tracing works, and investigated pandemic response technology.

Our company's purpose is to “design technology to better serve humankind,” and when the pandemic began we knew we had to play a role in helping people get through.

Doing the greatest good for the public during a global pandemic also meant that we had to let go of pursuing IP protection and instead make our product freely available to the global community. By contributing our open source code to github, we offer transparency and developer inspection. We also leveraged this open source community to scale out our solutions quickly, this is a technology trend at the cutting edge of govtech.

This work has also led to RUSH becoming a contributor to COVID Green, the Linux Foundation Public Health (LFPH) open source software to help public health authorities around the world combat COVID-19 and future epidemics.

The experience design was truly a collaborative team effort by RUSH and the Ministry all interrogating and pushing the work.

From kickoff we were in constant contact with the Ministry of Health who were engaging with contact tracers and health, government and community stakeholders to understand requirements. These were captured as problem statements and user stories, and refined into acceptance criteria, dependencies and scope.

RUSH worked remotely drawing journey maps on sketch pads at home, and rapidly moved into flows in Figma where everyone could access work in progress. Iterations were reviewed with the Ministry daily and feedback shared to refine user experience, consistency and communication.

The app needed to be elegantly simple and have clear pathways to action. We had a broad group of users to consider including users with access limitations, visual impairments, and low trust in Government.

These groups informed our design to provide a broader-than-standard release to account for the widest range of devices, incorporate haptic feedback and voice over direction for visually impaired users, and decentralised code and secure data for privacy. Understanding that concerns about Government use of data could be a barrier for app use, privacy is a key part of the NZ COVID Tracer app design which was also reviewed and endorsed by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner.

The final digital solutions were two mobile applications, a QR Code checkin and digital diary, a Bluetooth exposure notifications service, and a Rapid QR Code poster generator.

The app is used by more than 60% of adults and helps speed up contact tracing to stop new clusters before they start, ultimately saving lives.

Archiver’s Response:

"How can this not be in an archive of New Zealand design?!"

"This project used design and technology to bring out simple, yet effective messaging within communities across New Zealand. The social impact of this campaign is evident in New Zealand's effort to stamp out the virus. The simplicity and clarity in this design and messaging can be attributed to its success."

"Undeniably a crucial tool in saving lives from the pandemic.
The wider system was a huge success, particularly with many hurdles that developed along the way. The beauty of the project lies in the ease of use and simplicity.

Privacy was an important issue for many people when asked to engage in an app of this nature. It's clear this aspect was treated with respect and only required what was essential for functionality.

I could only imagine the most daunting part about the project was the sheer accountability for success, especially when how much human behaviour was an influential factor.

This project demonstrated on the world stage that New Zealand designers/innovators are leading edge."

Credits & Collaborators:
RUSH: - Pavan Vyas, Danu Abeysuriya, Stephen Horner, Kenneth Rocke, Terry Williams-Willcock, Ilya Lukyanov, Chloe Fong, John Bing, Geoffrey Ballenden, Simon Thomas, Maryna Babych, Sony Pradhan, Sugandha Narang, Carl Peterken, Chanhee Park, Kane Armstrong, Prisca Fernando, Will Zhou, Yi Zeng, Jake Scott, David Bressler, Nathan Ganly, Logan Maire, Jeremy Scott, Francisco Mabres, Sora Nobari, Stephen Farrell, Adrian van Nierop, Jamie Peterson, Yanhua Li, Serhii Simkovskyi, Kevin Deloria
MINISTRY OF HEALTH: - Darren Douglass, Jon Herries, Patrick Hindmarsh, Shiree Hart, Lisa Gray, Merrin Macleod, Gautam Mangar, Jo Styles

01 Mo H hero
02 dashboard
Archive Submission
04 Scan Posters
05 poster generator
06 QR poster
07 Success
08 Diary
Archive Submission
10 contact alerts

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