The COVID19 pandemic had a devastating effect on tourism across the world, and it was felt deeply across the pacific island nations. Mark Brown, the Cook Islands Prime Minister, made a commitment to go all-out to return tourists to the islands and revitalise their economy.
Launching a new digital contact tracing solution that was interoperable with the NZ COVID Tracer app was identified as an essential step for opening a safe travel bubble with New Zealand.
RUSH worked alongside the Cook Islands and New Zealand government in anticipation of the two-way travel bubble between the two countries.
If a potential COVID case was identified in a resident of, or visitor to, the Cook Islands, the Ministry of Health would need to be able to quickly begin the contact tracing process for both parties. This meant that users would need a way to maintain their anonymously recorded Bluetooth ID codes of people that they may have encountered while they were travelling, or visited.
Calling on experience from the design and development for the NZ COVID Tracer app, and specifically around the Bluetooth tracing technology, the team needed to implement Bluetooth tracing in the Cook Islands, and then find a way to connect the systems.
We created a new digital product called CookSafe+, to sit alongside the existing CookSafe app used by residents of the Cook Islands.
The Cook Islands contact tracing app was launched in April 2021, in advance of quarantine-free travel from New Zealand opening up in May 2021. Developing this interoperable contact tracing application was a first in the southern hemisphere, and had only been done in one other instance overseas.