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State's contact tracing app flops despite massive funding

Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman calls on Health Ministry to spur as many people to download app, allocate extra funds for advertisement of app

Adir Yanko |
Published: 08.02.20 , 21:20
Almost 40% of users who downloaded the Health Ministry's recently launched coronavirus contact tracing app have uninstalled it within 24 hours after its launch despite millions invested in its development and advertisement, according to data presented by the Health Ministry to Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Sunday.
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  • According to the data, 44,098 users downloaded the app, called "Magen 2", upon its release last Monday and at least 17,079 of them removed it from their phones that same day.
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    (Photo: Shutterstock)
    Furthermore, ministry documents showed that the state had invested some NIS 4 million on social media marketing and another NIS 1.6 million on TV advertising.
    Committee chairman Blue & White MK Zvi Hauser called for the state to invest more funds into marketing the app, saying that "the amount of money and effort invested in the advertisement campaign does not reflect the Health Ministry's goal of 2.5 million downloads."
    צבי האוזרצבי האוזר
    Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman MK Zvi Hauser
    (Photo: Idan Arbel)
    "We need to improve the multi-layer defense apparatus against the virus – epidemiological investigations, Shin Bet phone tracing, and the app. The app must be spread and downloaded on a large scale. The amount invested in it does not suffice."
    Hauser called on the Health Ministry to spur as many people to download the app in order to help stave off the virus' spread.
    The app's original version, released at the outset of the pandemic in Israel, was based solely on GPS detection. The app recorded user location and sent out alerts to other users who were in their proximity in case they were found to have contracted the virus.
    מסיבת עיתונאים מסיבת עיתונאים
    Health Ministry Director-General Prof. Hezi Levi
    (Photo: GPO)
    The new Bluetooth-based version does not record the user's physical location but rather a listing of devices that were nearby and is considered more accurate, especially in closed spaces such as shopping centers or office towers.
    Health Ministry Director-General Prof. Hezi Levi published a letter to the ministry's workers calling them to "set an example to the public" and download the app on their mobile phones.
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