Contact tracing card or phone app?

The Government are considering a phone app for contact tracing, and they are also looking at the possibility of a Covid card that everyone would be supposed to carry when going out in public.

Government tracking of the population is a contentious issue with fears of becoming a surveillance society (more so than now), but perhaps a card would be better than a phone app.

Stuff: Government considering Covid Card for contact tracing

New Zealanders could soon be carrying an extra eftpos-sized card with them as a way to help contact tracing of coronavirus.

Minister of Finance Grant Robertson confirmed a card was being considered as a digitised option for contact tracing, alongside options like mobile apps.

“There is a lot of work being done in a lot of businesses and research centres on what is the best way to support contact tracing.

“I’m aware there is work going on in a card-type approach.”

He said all options were being looked into to decide the best option for New Zealanders.

Newsroom reported the card option was presented to Justice Minister Andrew Little and Communications Minister Kris Faafoi on April 12.

The card would be handed out to all New Zealanders and cost the Government $100 million.

Andrew Chen, research fellow at Auckland University Koi Tū – Centre for Informed Futures, said a card would work in a similar way to apps which have also been proposed, in that it would connect to other bluetooth devices and store the information of people you came in contact with.

He said using a card had some positives, including being accessible to everyone, not just those with smartphones.

However, it could be easy to forget at home, and not enough people would use the device to gather data needed to control the spread of Covid-19.

He said using an app for those who had smartphones, and a card for those who do not, might be the solution.

Every option would have downsides, and he said the government needed to pick one so it could start being implemented.

Another downside for both is that people who don’t care about spreading Covid may also not care to be tracked by the Government.

Maybe the card wouldn’t be such a bad thing, for a limited time.

I’m not keen on being tracked via my phone. There’s no way of being certain what is being monitored and what data might be pulled off the phone. And there’s no easy way of being certain the app is removed properly if you try that.

At least with a card you can choose to take it with you, or choose not to. You can leave it in your car or letter box so there’s no way of being tracked in your home. And it would be a lot simpler to throw away or destroy than your phone.

But do we need tracking at all? If we are successful at keeping the Covid spread to a minimum then tracking devices look to be a possible overkill.

Tracking progress of the new Government

Stuff has launched a website to try to keep track of what the new Government is doing.

They explain The First Draft: Tracking the start of a Government

Jacinda Ardern has been anointed the world’s 13th most powerful woman.

Construction of a motorway has been scrapped.

Students are enrolling for free tertiary education next year and foreigners have a couple of months left to buy existing New Zealand homes.

In the rush of the modern news cycle, it can be difficult to decipher the really important stuff. Or to review the progress of a Government over any given week, let alone month or year.

Stuff is experimenting with a new platform to try to untangle the muddle. Today, we’re launching The First Draft, a project tracking the early days of the Ardern administration.

The concept is simple: we’ll highlight key events with short pieces of analysis, fact-checking and data-based reporting. The posts will only be available to view via The First Draft. You’ll be able to scroll back over a preview of every post to simply review some of the most important developments.

The First Draft link:


Hughes calls for tracking ban until facts known

Green Gareth Hughes is calling for a moratorium on all tracking until “people’s health and safety can be guaranteed”.

Whistle-blowing MP Gareth Hughes has called on tracking to be halted in New Zealand while Parliament’s environmental watchdog carries out a top-level investigation into the controversial transportation industry process.

The process involves the high-pressure injection of diesel into combustion chambers to help release energy.

Its opponents claim it is responsible for the poisoning of air supplies and has led to chronic collisions of residents traveling within tracking zones.

While welcoming the inquiry, Hughes said all tracking in New Zealand should be banned until questions were answered about its possible impacts.

“We are on the cusp of a massive expansion … until we can be assured the practice is actually safe, now is the best time to have a breather and a moratorium on new tracks. It makes sense to wait until the results of this report before we allow new trains to go ahead.”

Minister of Transport Gerry Brownlee revealed to the Star-Times two months ago that tracking had been occurring in New Zealand since the early 1860s.

Hughes said that permits had been approved for 4,128 kilometres of New Zealand land to be tracked on.

That concerned him, saying new tracking permits could be granted despite the PCE possibly finding against the process in her report.

“In the last year we have seen a 170 per cent increase in the rate of new carriages compared to the average rate for the previous 18 years.

“If you look at our history, it has been pretty static. We have had 30 to 40 trains. Now if Green Party policy is to be implemented, that trend is just going to go up and up,” he said.

“It could be too late by the time the Parliamentary Commissioner reports back to make sure the consents are adequate, the regulations are up to scratch and people’s health and safety can be guaranteed.”