Nearly one million Australians have downloaded the government’s official coronavirus information app in just 24 hours, with “rapid enhancements” to be rolled out in the coming weeks.
The coronavirus app will act as an official source of information for Australians during the COVID-19 pandemic, with a symptom checker, media releases, official statistics and contact information for authorities.
It was developed by Canberra-based tech firm Delv across the last two weeks after the company was engaged by the Department of Health and the Digital Transformation Agency.
The app is available on the Apple and Android app stores and has been downloaded nearly one million times after it was launched by Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Sunday.
Delv chief digital officer Barrett Munce said the company had previously worked with the government on other projects with a fast turnaround, but nothing like this.
“This is even a record time for us, from going from idea to design to developing two apps,” Mr Munce told InnovationAus.
“The intent of the app and what it’s doing at the moment is to give the Australian public a tool that they can quickly access all the relevant information in one central point, and that’s more native to the devices they use,” he said.
“It’s so they don’t have to go to Google or rely on their Twitter feed or what the neighbour said. This is what’s happening, this is what the government is doing, and this is what I can do if I need help.”
The team of 15 people used a human-centred design process to develop the app and was provided with information from the government on website traffic and searches to identify what information people are seeking during the crisis.
“We used that as a big element and worked through the types of users, and tried to make the information easily accessible for people from the ages of six to 106.”
Delv secured a six-month contract with the DTA as part of developing the app in a closed tender process, with the company to now continually update it and improve on the first version.
While the current product is heavily based on the Department of Health website and often links back to it, newer versions of it will include more native content, Mr Munce said.
“There’s a lot of information pulled in there at the moment and we are mindful of timeframes, so we couldn’t recreate a lot of those things. In future releases we’ll use more native functions in the app. The primary thing for day dot was to get information in people’s hands, and then we’ll iterate and update it after that.
“At the moment we’re working through with the government on what it looks like, and tidying it up and making the features more native. We want to rely less on web clips and have them as native pieces in the app.”
Mr Munce said there will be “rapid enhancements” to the COVID-19 app over the coming weeks.
Over the weekend Mr Morrison also launched a new WhatsApp messaging service to deliver information on the COVID-19 pandemic to Australians, developed in collaboration with Atlassian and Facebook.