How Israel’s HaMagen get in touch with tracing app rollout went wildly astray

The late March pitch for HaMagen, or “the defend,” the Israeli overall health ministry’s coronavirus speak to tracing app, was shorter and to the place.  “The app that guards you and updates you in actual-time in situation you are exposed to corona,” declared a 15-second YouTube advertisement.

As very first-wave case numbers surged and Israel entered its first nationwide lockdown, the buzz about the government’s digital marketing campaign in opposition to the pandemic was upbeat.

Privacy industry experts examined it and endorsed it. Coders volunteered tweaks to the open supply code on GitHub. In the very first handful of weeks just after it grew to become readily available, extra than 1 million customers downloaded HaMagen on to their smartphones. Newspapers crowned the app a accomplishment and noted that international locations were looking into adapting it.

 A 50 % yr afterwards, with Israel not but absolutely reopened soon after a next lockdown that took outcome in September, HaMagen seems to have been discarded equally by the government and the general public — even after a extensively touted launch in late July of a second edition, “HaMagen 2.”

When HaMagen has gathered additional than 2.5 million downloads in a country of 9 million, the installed foundation of people in fact applying the app has declined a little due to the fact late March, according to authorities figures. And even though a lot more than 350,000 customers downloaded the enhance of HaMagen, only about 22,000 stored the application on their phones.