Ashley Bloomfield and the QR tip (Photo: Kevin Stent/POOL)
Ashley Bloomfield and the QR tip (Photo: Kevin Stent/POOL)

SocietyJanuary 15, 2021

Five ideas to fix NZ’s completely pathetic Covid QR scanning record

Ashley Bloomfield and the QR tip (Photo: Kevin Stent/POOL)
Ashley Bloomfield and the QR tip (Photo: Kevin Stent/POOL)

Hardly anyone is using their Covid Tracer app. Something needs to change.

As the mercury approaches 30°C in Aotearoa, there is a good deal of slipping and slopping, but, let’s face it, piss-all scanning. As few as around 500,000 QR codes are being scanned by users of the NZ Covid Tracer app daily in January, which almost certainly means fewer than 250,000 people scanning at all. That’s a substantially smaller number than the total daily swipes of a supermarket loyalty card. And at a time when several imports of the virus now come with free added transmissibility of up to 70%.

The scan-tally is so feeble that even Act leader David Seymour, enemy in chief of compulsion, has called for scanning to be compulsory. Whatever would DemocracyMum have said?

The communications gurus are doing their best with the “Make summer unstoppable” campaign and references to MC Hammer, but there’s surely more to do. Here’s a handful of suggestions. Please let us know your own.

Bleep it up

This is a serious business, not Covémon-Go, but why not experiment with a few other congratulatory noises, on top of the (admittedly gratifying) little vibration the app offers upon a successful scan? The roar of a crowd. The sting from Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Or a randomised Morning Report bird call.

Personalised thanks

Take it a step further, and leverage the personalities of the key figures that have led us through this crisis. Scan the QR successfully to hear St Ashley Bloomfield declare, “What I can say is … Well done!” Or Jacinda Ardern assign you a team member number between one and five million. Other options: David Seymour twerking. James Shaw saying “Sorry!” Judith Collins saying “My husband is Samoan, so talofa!”


It obviously won’t do to incentivise each scan with a reward; that would only lead to unruly mobs mass scanning like they’re visiting the Capitol. But how about this: everyone who scans at least once a week gets to enter a draw to win a cool prize. Like a mountain bike ride with David Clark. An unruly tourist Bunnings hat. Or, given it is by some distance the New Zealander’s most beloved pastime of the summer: some stickers for knives.

Pimp my QR

A competition encouraging businesses to enhance the presentation and visibility of their QR code via a garish and bizarre poster / frame / shrine / animatronic giant Ashley Bloomfield puppet.

Human billboards

Pay several hundred students to mount an educational campaign, handing out leaflets at popular holiday spots, beaches and urban places of congregation. The students (an interest in the performing arts is desirable but not essential) will communicate the risks of the coronavirus escaping from isolation and quarantine facilities by being costumed as massive and terrifying lift buttons and bin lids, bleeping and flapping and coughing and spluttering like the worst imaginable hellscape human Covid pinball nightmare.

Keep going!