NEWS19 May 2020

Survey highlights IT concerns over NHS Covid-19 app

Covid-19 Mobile News Privacy Technology UK

UK – Only 24% of IT professionals think the NHS contact tracing app will be effective in containing Covid-19, according to a survey from BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT.

Contact tracing covid tracking_crop

The survey, which is based on a poll of 1,716 BCS members between 11th-15th May, also found that 32% believed the app would make no contribution to the fights against the virus.

Almost half ( 45%) of IT professionals surveyed were still undecided on the app.

The NHS’s contact tracing app is currently being trialled on the Isle of Wight, and is expected to play a major role in helping to contain Covid-19 across the country.

More than half of the IT professionals surveyed by the BCS said that a decentralised Google/Apple API model of record storage would be preferable, with only 23% favouring the centralised model the app currently has.

When asked if they would install the current app themselves, 42% of respondents said they would, while 36% said they would opt against it.

The BCS found that data security and privacy were the biggest concerns, followed by doubts about the app’s effectiveness and a lack of trust in the government. The automation of advice to self-isolate was also cited by 27% of respondents.

Dr Bill Mitchell, director of policy at BCS, said: “It feels like there is a lot of goodwill out there to give a tracing app a chance – if it can be shown to work. That means if these concerns are fully addressed then maybe more than 60% of the population will install a high-quality app. That’s the magic adoption figure we need for the app to have real impact on stopping Covid-19.

“The government will need to work hard to convince people that ‘ethical by design, correct by design, and privacy by default’ values are baked into the app to get the download numbers it is aiming for.”