The federal government’s exposure notification app COVID Alert has not been downloaded by the majority of Canadians, according to a new report from York University
The report outlines that accessibility challenges, such as the lack of multilingual functionality on the app and misconceptions around privacy are deterring people from downloading the app.
“Canada’s COVID Alert app is more privacy-centric. However, the perceptions people have — such as that the app is tracking users’ locations or that the data collected is used for other purposes, may not reflect the reality of the situation,” said Rebecca Babcock, the research coordinator at the Digital Global Health & Humanitarianism Lab, in a statement.
“That’s why it’s important to have clear and transparent communication about how this app works, what this app does, and what privacy issues are actual concerns, in order to combat any misinformation.”
Last month, the COVID Alert Advisory Council found that only five percent of people who tested positive for the virus were given a key to upload their results to the app.
The council’s report noted that another factor hindering the app’s success is the fact that it’s not widely available across the country. The report encouraged the provincial governments of Alberta, B.C., Yukon and Nunavut to adopt the app.
Similar to the report from York University, the council asked the federal government to update the app to make it available in more languages. The report noted that outside of Canada, the majority of exposure notification apps are available in non-official national languages.