Digital contact tracing apps have been introduced globally as an instrument to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, privacy by design impedes both the evaluation of these tools and the deployment of evidence-based interventions to stimulate uptake. We combine an online panel survey with mobile tracking data to measure the actual usage of Germany’s official contact tracing app and reveal higher uptake rates among respondents with an increased risk of severe illness, but lower rates among those with a heightened risk of exposure to COVID-19. Using a randomized intervention, we show that informative and motivational video messages have very limited effect on uptake. However, findings from a second intervention suggest that even small monetary incentives can strongly increase uptake and help make digital contact tracing a more effective tool.

Authors: Simon Munzert, Peter Selb, Anita Gohdes, Lukas F. Stoetzer & Will Lowe

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