Unchanging attitudes of Australians to the COVIDSafe contact tracing app

Paul Garrett, Josh White, Simon Dennis, Daniel Little, Amy Perfors,
Nic Geard, Lewis Mitchell#, Yoshi Kashima, Stephan Lewandowsky*
University of Melbourne
University of Adelaide#
University of Bristol*

The most recent work by the CHDH on a representative sample of Australians shows that 45% of participants had downloaded the COVIDSafe app and 21% intended to download the app in the future (similar results to our previous sample in May), and that the app had an effective usage rate of 61%. You can see the preliminary analysis here or follow the highlights we present below.

1) In our sample of the Australian public, 85% of COVIDSafe users were registered on the app and kept Bluetooth on when in public (a decrease of 6% from May), however, the app only had an effective usage rate of 61%. Of the 50% of COVIDSafe users who owned an Apple smartphone, less than half (45%) used the app effectively. That is, the phone was left unlocked, Bluetooth switched on, and the app was left open on the front-screen when in public.

2) Of all those who had downloaded COVIDSafe, 58% correctly reported that the app uses Bluetooth technology. By contrast, an even number of non-app users think COVIDSafe uses Bluetooth or Location data (34%; see Figure). These misconceptions may impact if and when an individual will download the app.

Figure 1. Perceived technology used by the COVIDSafe app for contract tracing. The app uses Bluetooth technology. Other options included GPS ‘Location’ data, telecommunication ‘Network’ data, and ‘do not know’.

3) Of those who had download COVIDSafe, 29% download the app on the day it was released. A further 57% download the app in the week after it was released, and 14% any time after that. It appears that, for now, COVIDSafe downloads are driven primarily by early adopters.

4) When asked to rank-order options for why they download COVIDSafe, the top-ranked responses were ‘To return to normal activities’ and ‘Government policy’, closely followed by ‘personal health’ and ‘the health of others’. Helping the economy ranked very poorly.

Figure 2. Rank-ordered responses for why participants downloaded COVIDSafe. Percentages reflect the cumulative responses to a given item at each rank level. For example, 50% of participants responded with ‘return to normal activities’ as their first or second option.

5) We asked those who intend to download the app in the future why they have not yet downloaded COVIDSafe? The primary responses were that they were ‘Still considering the pros and cons’ and were ‘waiting on others to download the app’.

Figure 3. Rank-ordered responses for why participants are yet to download COVIDSafe. Percentages reflect the cumulative responses to a given item at each rank level. For example, 46% of participants responded with ‘considering the pros and cons’ as their first or second option.

6) Similarly, we asked why people will not download the app in the future. The primary reasons were a concern over ‘normalizing Government tracking’, a lack of ‘Government trust’, ‘Privacy’ concerns, a belief that the app would be ‘non-effective’, and ‘battery usage’.

Figure 4. Rank-ordered responses for why participants will not download COVIDSafe. Percentages reflect the cumulative responses to a given item at each rank level. For example, 33% of participants responded with concern over ‘normalizing Government tracking’ as their first or second option.

7) When asked if they approved of the Government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, 75% of participants showed somewhat-to-strong approval. Only 11% somewhat-to-strongly disapproved.

8) Finally, we asked participants about their attitudes towards app usage when traveling. 54% of participants would willingly download and use another country’s COVID-19 tracking app if it were a condition of travel. By contrast, 67% of participants think all arrivals to Australia should be required to download and use the COVIDSafe app as a condition of entry.

To see the results from the previous waves of our survey, and of our international collaborators in the UK, US, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Taiwan and more see here.

More Information

Simon Dennis | CHDH director

simon.dennis@unimelb.edu.au