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Thursday, April 15, 2021

Webinar: A closer look at COVIDSafe

Since its launch one month ago, the COVIDSafe app has become one of the fastest-downloaded apps in Australian history; now a panel of experts will examine technology’s role in the fight against COVID-19.

A webinar is being held tomorrow morning, Tuesday 26 May, on the pros and cons of COVIDSafe, possible next steps, and the role of technology in the fight against COVID-19.

The panel will be chaired by Professor Seth Lazar from the Australian National University (ANU). He said while we’ve learnt a lot about the app in the past four weeks, there’s still plenty of room for debate about some of the bigger issues.

“We now know how it works under the hood, how it can support traditional contact tracing, and the technological and legal measures taken to mitigate privacy risks,” Professor Lazar said. “But there’s been very little in the way of holistic public discussion about how we use technology in the fight against a pandemic like COVID-19.

“This webinar will examine app-supported contact tracing – considering public health, privacy, law and security – to both inform where we are now and help decide where to go next.”

Six million Australians have downloaded the COVIDSafe app

As at 24 May, six million Australians have downloaded the COVIDSafe app, less than a month after being launched.

Federal Minister for Government Services, Stuart Robert, said the app was downloaded faster than any other Australian Government app and has consistently remained the top free app in the Australian app stores.

The app is designed to help State and Territory public health officials automate and improve manual contact tracing of the coronavirus and, according to the government, is already proving a valuable tool.

In Victoria, a person who had not been identified through the normal processes, was notified as being a close contact by the app. That person is now in quarantine, protecting the community from a further potential spread of the virus.

The webinar ‘COVIDSafe: Four Weeks In’ will be held on Tuesday 26 May 11am-12pm and is hosted by the Humanising Machine Intelligence Project at ANU and the Australian Academy of Science.

The panel will feature Dr Meru Sheel, ANU; Dr Katharine Kemp, University of New South Wales (UNSW); Associate Professor James Wood, UNSW; and Associate Professor Vanessa Teague, Thinking Cybersecurity. You can register here.

For more news stories:

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ACT won’t immediately follow NSW pubs 50-patron rule

On the job with the ACT Contact Tracing team

2.44m Aussies download coronavirus app

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