The Australian Government has announced what it claims is a ‘world-leading technology development’ that will further improve the COVIDSafe App and boost the fight against the pandemic in the country.
It comes as the authorities launch a new advertising campaign reminding people that, as Australia heads into Christmas and restrictions are easing, they should maintain virus-safe behaviours.
Better identification of close contacts
The app incorporates a new Bluetooth protocol called Herald that will offer improved app-level Bluetooth performance and contribute to better identification of potential close contacts.
This update will improve contact-tracing capability and is integrated with state and territory health authorities.
According to a statement released by health minister Greg Hunt, the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) has been working with Apple and Google on incorporating the new protocol in the COVIDSafe App and performing extensive testing using both Android and iOS devices.
Update won’t compromise app’s security
This new protocol is said to provide improved performance of encounter logging under all phone conditions and will continue to operate on more than 96% of Apple and Android phones.
The DTA has also been working with the Australian Cyber Security Centre to ensure the security of the new code meets the same requirements as the previous versions of the COVIDSafe App.
“The Government is reinforcing the message not to be complacent in regards to the risks of spreading Covid-19 and how to stay safe, including having the App on your phone,” Hunt said.
Maintain safe behaviour over Christmas
“Our latest advertising campaign, which begins this week, is an important reminder that, as we head into Christmas and restrictions are easing, people should maintain safe behaviours.”
Stuart Robert, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service, said the code for the update is being made available now to the public via Github to enable the tech community an opportunity to provide feedback ahead of the release to the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
“Australia’s technology capability and contact-tracing systems are world-leading and we will be the first country in the world to adopt the Herald Bluetooth protocol, which has been shown to significantly improve our capability through the COVIDSafe App,” Robert stated.