The Rise and Fall of COVID-19 Contact-Tracing Apps: when NFRs Collide with Pandemic
To complement the manual contact-tracing methods, a flood of coronavirus-related apps was launched in the first half of 2020. Despite the incredible promises made by the governments, contact-tracing apps did not live up to expectations. We provide a contextual perspective of the government commissioned contact-tracing apps from four countries to understand the non-functional requirements (NFRs) and socio-technical factors that hindered the success of these apps. We collected the user reviews from the app stores for iOS and Android versions and identified top news articles related to each app. Our analysis revealed that the dominant factors behind the negligible success of these apps are complex and entangled with the cultural and political dimensions rather than being just technical. The multilayer diversity of the target users also impacted the design and development of contact-tracing apps in an extremely challenging situation. This perspective paper brings into light important elements, such as politics and socio-cultural aspects that should be studied in the design of contact-tracing apps, and public apps in general.
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