Govt coronavirus app set for launch

Denham Sadler
National Affairs Editor

A new app providing coronavirus information and guidance to Australians will be launched next week by the federal government after being developed by a Canberra tech company.

Delv has been working on the app in recent weeks, which will provide information about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to Australians and it is set to be launched next week. The Canberra-based company is also set to secure a six-month contract to further develop and maintain the smartphone app.

An opportunity was listed on the Digital Transformation Agency’s Digital Marketplace on Wednesday seeking an “experienced seller” to “develop, support and host a government mobile platform to allow the dissemination of COVID-19 virus information, related restrictions and other supporting advice and directions”.

Greg Hunt
Greg Hunt: A COVID-19 smartphone app to be delivered next week

But the listing of the tender is a formality, with submissions closing on Thursday and only one seller invited to apply.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health confirmed that Canberra-based company Delv has already been working on the app. Delv offers app development amongst other services and uses products from its partners, who include Microsoft, Apple and IBM.

Delv chief executive Masseh Haidary is an Australian Information Industry Association board member and a former Optus head of ACT and Federal government strategy.

The company has been handed an initial six-month contract to build and maintain the app, with an option to extend for another six months.

“The DTA and the Department of Health have been working in partnership with Delv to deliver a coronavirus information mobile app that will provide regular updates and official news related to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the department of health spokesperson said.

“The app is expected to be delivered in the coming week.”

The brief marketplace listing only includes one essential criteria, that the seller has “experience in developing mobile platforms” and lists an “ability to support and host mobile platforms during a pandemic” as desirable criteria.

The development of a coronavirus information app was flagged earlier this month, with Health Minister Greg Hunt saying it would be a one-stop shop for information and advice regarding the pandemic, the latest advice from the Chief Medical Officer and advice for self-isolation and quarantine.

It will not aim to replicate the Singaporean government’s COVID-19 app, which tracks users and tells them if they have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus.

The TraceTogether app was rolled out last week, with more than 500,000 people in Singapore downloading it in one day.

The app uses a smartphone’s Bluetooth to track the user’s location and proximity to other people who have downloaded it. It stores these records for three weeks, and if the user is diagnosed with COVID-19, can identify other people who they have been in contact with and organise a test for them.

The developers of the Singapore app have made the product open source, meaning the Australian government is free to copy it to develop a localised version of it.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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