Integrating other contact tracing apps with NZ COVID Tracer APIs

The Ministry of Health is working with third-party vendors to integrate their solutions with the National Contact Tracing Solution.

Last updated: 2 September 2021

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Background

Third-party integration with the NZ COVID Tracer app has the potential to improve contact tracing by enabling the users of third-party apps and other technology to exchange digital contact tracing information with the Ministry.

In June 2020 the Ministry took the first major step toward integration by releasing data specifications for the official NZ COVID Tracer QR codes. This enabled third-party developers to update their apps to become compatible with the official QR codes, and removed the need for businesses to display multiple codes.

In July 2020 the Ministry invited third-party developers to register their interest in working with us to validate that our contact tracing APIs under development would work with third-party solutions. This is key to ensuring that users of third-party apps will be able to receive NZ COVID Tracer contact alerts and transmit their digital diaries or visitor registers to the Ministry when required.

To be considered for this partnership, developers needed to establish that each user’s location history – or visitor history at locations – is recorded securely, and that no user information would be shared with the Ministry without the user’s consent.

A total of 10 expressions of interest were received by the due date of 17 July 2020. After reviewing all submissions, the Ministry selected three initial vendor partners to help validate the contact tracing APIs:

  • PaperKite (Rippl) (contact tracing app for businesses/customers)
  • SaferMe (contact tracing for workforces)
  • Snapper (contactless electronic ticketing card).

Current status

The Ministry has successfully integrated Paperkite (Rippl), SaferMe and Snapper services with the National Contact Tracing Solution (NCTS).

The Ministry has also engaged with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner and other agencies to ensure that all personal information is managed appropriately, and is shared with the Ministry for contact tracing only with the consent of users. This engagement has supported the completion of a Privacy Impact Assessment.

In parallel, the Ministry has been developing a process for engaging with other vendors interested in integrating their service with NCTS. This process was published in July 2021 and is available at How technology can support contact tracing.

Future state

Third-party integration with the Ministry’s contact tracing APIs will:

  • improve contact tracing by:
    • increasing the range and volume of information available to contact tracers
    • enabling more New Zealanders to receive contact alerts and share their location histories with the Ministry
    • making it easier to make direct contact with people who may have been exposed to COVID-19
  • provide New Zealanders with greater choice in the way they keep track of where they’ve been and who they’ve seen
  • provide a solid platform for integration with further third-party apps and technology, subject to appropriate privacy and security controls.

COVID-19 Contact Tracing Data Standard

The COVID-19 Contact Tracing Data Standard assists technology vendors to interpret the data requirements for contact tracing. 

Technology vendors should also ensure that any solutions developed conform to current government requirements, regardless of what is captured in this standard. See in particular COVID-19 Epidemic Notice and Health Act Orders.

Read more about the integration platform and supporting information relevant to contact tracing.

Privacy Impact Assessment

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner has been consulted throughout the project to integrate third parties with the contact tracing APIs, and the privacy implications (and their mitigations) for the current release have been recorded in accordance with the Privacy Commissioner’s recommendations in the Privacy Impact Assessment, as below. 

The Privacy Impact Assessment for the NZ COVID Tracer app is also available – see Privacy and security for NZ COVID Tracer.

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