The NZ COVID Tracer app has been updated to include Bluetooth tracing technology. Bluetooth tracing allows you to receive an alert if you have been near another app user who tests positive for COVID-19.
Bluetooth tracing is not intended to replace our existing contact tracing processes or the NZ COVID Tracer QR codes. You still need to scan QR codes to keep track of where you’ve been. Bluetooth tracing is an added tool — it helps keep track of the people we’ve been near.
How it works
Once you have turned Bluetooth tracing on, it works by sending out a private and secure random ID code. It’s like your phone is giving digital high-fives to other phones you are near. The Bluetooth tracing function records how close the other phone was, and for how long. The phones you come into contact with will need to have Bluetooth tracing turned on as well.
This means that when someone tests positive for COVID-19, they can send an anonymous notification containing all the random IDs their phone has sent out over the past 14 days. If your phone recognises any of these IDs, and you had been close enough for long enough to be at risk of exposure, you’ll receive an alert. This alert will advise you on what to do to keep yourself and your whānau safe.
Watch our Bluetooth tracing video on this page to see how it works.
How to turn it on
To enable Bluetooth tracing, go to the dashboard of the NZ COVID Tracer app. You should see a menu item saying whether Bluetooth tracing is on or not. If it’s off, tap the icon to turn it on.
Once Bluetooth tracing is enabled in the app, it will work automatically in the background as long as you have your phone’s Bluetooth setting on.
If you don’t see a menu item about Bluetooth tracing on the dashboard, you might need to update the app in the App Store or Play Store.
Bluetooth tracing will not use any mobile data, and it will not drain your battery because it uses Bluetooth Low Energy.
When you enable Bluetooth tracing, your privacy is always protected — it cannot share your location, your name or anything else about you. Bluetooth tracing also does not record who you came into contact with, or where you were.
This means if you receive an alert because you came into contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19, no one but you knows you have received it. All the contact tracing information you collect with the app is held securely on your phone, and it’s always your choice what information you choose to share.
Scanning QR codes with the NZ COVID Tracer app keeps us 1 step ahead of the virus — the more we scan the safer we’ll be.
Taking a few seconds to scan means we can quickly let you know when you have visited a place where you may have been exposed to the virus. You can then take steps to protect yourself and your whānau.
It also means if you test positive for the virus, you can instantly give your digital diary to contact tracers. This gives them a massive head start.
The faster we can trace contacts, the faster we can prevent another outbreak of the virus.
From 10 December, NZ COVID Tracer will have Bluetooth tracing to anonymously keep track of who you have been near. However, it’s still just as important to keep scanning QR codes to keep track of where you’ve been. Both are important for contact tracing.
If you do not use the app, use whatever method works for you, like the NZ COVID Tracer booklet.