Learnings from the Design and Acceptance of the German Corona-Warn-App for IS-driven Crisis Management: design science research

Alina Behne; Nicolai Krüger; Jan Heinrich Beinke; Frank Teuteberg

In: BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making (MIDM), Vol. 21, Pages 1-22, Springer, 2021.


This article investigates the research problem of digital solutions to overcome the pandemic, more closely examining the limited effectiveness and scope of the governmental COVID-19 tracing apps, using the German COVID-19 tracing app (Corona-Warn-App) as an example. A well-designed and effective instrument in the technological toolbox is of utmost importance to overcome the pandemic. In three development and evaluation cycles, we presented, prototyped, and tested user-centered ideas of functional and design improvement. The applied procedure contains (1) a survey featuring 1993 participants from Germany for evaluating the current app, (2) a gathering of recommendations from epidemiologists and from a focus group discussion with IT and health experts identifying relevant functional requirements, and (3) an online survey combined with testing our prototype with 53 participants to evaluate the enhanced tracing app. This contribution presents 14 identified issues of the German COVID-19 tracing app, six meta-requirements, and three design principles for COVID-19 tracing apps and future pandemic apps (e.g., more user involvement and transparency). Using an interactive prototype, this study presents an extended pandemic app, containing 13 potential front-end (i.e., information on the regional infection situation, education and health literacy, crowd and event notification) and six potential back-end functional requirements (i.e., ongoing modification of risk score calculation, indoor versus outdoor). In addition, a user story approach for the COVID-19 tracing app was derived from the findings, supporting a holistic development approach. Throughout this study, practical relevant findings can be directly transferred to the German and other international COVID-19 tracing applications. Moreover, we apply our findings to crisis management theory — particularly pandemic-related apps — and derive interdisciplinary learnings. It might be recommendable for the involved decision-makers and stakeholders to forego classic application management and switch to using an agile setup, which allows for a more flexible reaction to upcoming changes. It is even more important for governments to have a well-established, flexible, design-oriented process for creating and adapting technology to handle a crisis, as this pandemic will not be the last one.

Weitere Links

German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence
Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz