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COVID-19 Exposure Notification App Advisory Council

From: Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Canadians have been following public health advice and staying at home as much as possible to help prevent the spread of the virus. However, it is still important to remember that undetected cases of COVID-19 continue to circulate. It is crucial Canadians continue to take action against the virus to support the ongoing reopening of the economy and broader society. To help Canadians monitor their exposure to COVID-19, the Government of Canada has developed a nation-wide mobile app, COVID Alert.

The Government has named the COVID-19 Exposure Notification App Advisory Council that will ensure the app meets the highest standards in public health outcomes, technology, and privacy. The Council includes people with various expertise and perspectives including health, privacy, data governance, science, and innovation. Council members also reflect Canada's cultural diversity.

Meetings

November 13, 2020 — High-level summary

Meeting of Canada's COVID Alert App Advisory Council

Date: November 13, 2020
Time: 12:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. (ET)
Location: Videoconference

Summary

The fourth meeting of Canada's COVID Alert App Advisory Council focused on identifying strategies to reduce barriers to the adoption, retention and proper use of COVID Alert, recognizing that some Canadians remain unaware of the app and its benefits.

Agenda

  1. Opening remarks

    Senior officials from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) and Health Canada (HC) welcomed the participants and provided a recap of recent considerations related to the app, including accessibility, acceptability, measurement data, and emerging technologies that could be compatible with COVID Alert or represent additional options in the longer term.

  2. Setting the stage for discussion

    HC offered an overview of its next phase of marketing and outreach activities, including targeting young demographics via social media apps and appealing to notable Canadians, celebrities, influencers, and organizations and businesses that could act as ambassadors for the app. HC added that, in support of these efforts, it has established a working group of behavioural scientists and other collaborators to build a better understanding of why some people are not downloading the app and to determine how best to promote its benefits and the use of one-time keys (OTKs) upon receipt of a positive test result.

  3. Identification of strategies to reduce barriers to adoption, retention and proper use

    Council members discussed strategies to build on HC's marketing and outreach activities, such as identifying additional community leaders and influencers, for example, within Indigenous communities; targeting demographic groups that may not be downloading the app; increasing the visibility of federal, provincial and territorial policies in place to support Canadians who receive an exposure notification and are encouraged to get tested and self-isolate; discussing value-added information for app users who register a positive test result; developing focused strategies for Indigenous, low-income or racialized communities, as well as communities with clusters of positive cases; and emphasizing the importance of public messaging on the role that COVID Alert plays, in tandem with other tools, in helping fight COVID-19.

    In addition, council members discussed approaches that could be considered to more effectively measure and demonstrate the impact of the app on public health, which will be the focus of more in-depth discussions at future meetings.

  4. Closing remarks

    HC and ISED summarized the key discussion points and the steps required to support the Council's next meeting. The members were invited to prepare for future discussions, which will focus on COVID Alert as a government service to Canadians. On this topic, thought will be given to how the app could be continuously optimized and could be adapted for future purposes, including, for example, to support the gradual resumption of social and economic activities as vaccines are made available across Canada.

October 30, 2020 — High-level summary

Meeting of Canada's Advisory Council on COVID Alert

Date: October 30, 2020
Time: 12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. (ET)
Location: Videoconference

Summary

The third meeting of Canada's Advisory Council on COVID Alert was a focused discussion on strategies to increase the accessibility of the COVID Alert app to vulnerable populations across Canada.

Agenda

  1. Opening Remarks

    Senior officials from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) and Health Canada welcomed and thanked members, and indicated their keen interest and support in Council's engagement on the first pillar of the work plan that focuses on the social and economic barriers to COVID Alert adoption, retention, and usage.

    A representative from ISED provided an overview of recent developments and presented the critical path forward for the Advisory Council to address the core pillars of the work plan over the next series of meetings.

  2. Setting the Stage for Discussion

    A representative from the Canadian Digital Service (CDS) provided an overview of the technical features and/or updates confirmed, planned or being assessed for the COVID Alert app.

    Council members expressed support for the recent release of the updated notification exposure window, and recommended that CDS consider a broad range of implications when implementing or considering new features.

  3. Identification of Strategies to Increase Accessibility for Specific Populations

    A detailed overview of the work plan and discussion paper was provided. The discussion paper was focused on the first topic within the first pillar of the work plan, and addressed the accessibility of the COVID Alert app for specific populations. The co-chair thanked Council members for their input into the work plan, and recognized the need to continually engage all Council members across all three pillars to ensure that the app meets the highest standards within the realms of public health, technology, privacy and security.

    A discussion followed that considered various options, strategies and models to increase the awareness of the COVID Alert and address issues of accessibility, including: engagement of communities through community development initiatives; targeting engagement on a priority basis to communities where outbreaks are prevalent; segmentation of vulnerable populations into targeted subgroups, and strategies for engaging each subgroup; and various public health measures and tools that could be leveraged in support of the COVID Alert app.

  4. Closing remarks

    Summary of the key discussion points as a basis for further discussion at Council's next meeting, which will focus on app adoption, retention and use.

September 22, 2020 — High-level summary

Meeting of Canada's COVID-19 Exposure Notification App Advisory Council

Date: September 22, 2020
Time: 10:30 a.m. to noon (ET)
Location: Videoconference

Summary

The second meeting of Canada's COVID-19 Exposure Notification App Advisory Council briefly touched on advancements in, and uptake of, the app since its launch, followed by a focused discussion on the specific framework that the council will adopt to guide meaningful and effective advice to support the continued development and implementation of COVID Alert.

Agenda

  1. Opening remarks

    Representatives from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada and Health Canada welcomed council members and thanked them for their participation in the technical briefings on four key elements: digital, privacy, security, and public health and measurement.

  2. Looking back: Results achieved to date

    Representatives from the Canadian Digital Service and Health Canada provided updates on the onboarding of provinces and territories, marketing strategies, active engagements, user uptake, and the development of potential new features. Members of the advisory council highlighted the importance of outreach and engagement with younger demographics.

  3. Looking forward: Focus and role of the council

    Health Canada representatives presented a proposed framework and work plan that aimed to guide the advice and work objectives for the council. This was followed by a discussion led by the co-chairs. Members of the advisory council discussed the work plan and provided recommendations. Other topics raised included measuring the impact of the app on public health workload systems and dealing with barriers to user adoption.

  4. Closing remarks

    Discussion on the advisory council's critical path.

August 5, 2020 — High-level summary

Meeting of Canada's Advisory Council on COVID Alert

Date: August 5, 2020
Time: 4:00 to 5:30 p.m. (ET)
Location: Videoconference

Summary

The first meeting of Canada's Advisory Council on COVID Alert centred on a review of the council's Terms of Reference, introductory member remarks, an overview of the application and an initial discussion on how to encourage uptake.

Agenda

  1. Opening remarks and council function

    Simon Kennedy, Deputy Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, and Stephen Lucas, Deputy Minister of Health, welcomed members and noted that the function of the advisory council is to ensure that the COVID Alert app meets the highest standards in terms of public health outcomes, technology and privacy.

  2. Co-chair and member introductions

    Co-chairs Jean-François Gagné, Founder of ElementAI, and Carole Piovesan, Co-Founder of INQ Data Law, provided initial remarks. Council members then introduced themselves and highlighted the perspectives they bring to the table.

  3. Overview of app

    Government of Canada officials from the Canadian Digital Service and Health Canada provided an overview of the app, including technical specifications and the user interface.

  4. Delivering a world-class service to Canadians

    The council raised initial considerations on how to ensure the COVID Alert app meets the highest standards for Canadians, including a positive user experience from end to end, to help drive adoption rates in support of the ongoing reopening of the economy and broader society.

  5. Closing remarks

    Discussion on next steps and organizational work of the advisory council.

Associated link

Download COVID Alert today

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