Rotorua has been picked to trial Covid-19 tracing technology before the rest of New Zealand because it's an "important meeting point" with a good population mix.
The Government is yet to determine when the CovidCard trial will begin and is liaising with iwi leaders about picking more than 250 participants.
A Ministry of Health spokesperson told the Rotorua Daily Post Rotorua had been chosen because of "the Bay of Plenty region's size and population mix".
"With Rotorua being such an important meeting point or hub for its surrounding communities - it presents the right conditions for the trial."
The $1 million budgeted for the trial will be spent on community engagement and consultation, tech development and testing, market research, privacy and security assurance and the management of independent trial research, deployment and resources.
TradeMe founder Sam Morgan was the public frontman of a group that developed the CovidCard.
It's the size of an office swipe card, about three times as thick, and worn around the neck on a lanyard.
It will not track people, but keep a record of which other CovidCards are in the vicinity with Bluetooth technology.
Scientific experts have been optimistic about the new contact-tracing method.
Last week, the head of computer science at Auckland University of Technology, Professor Dave Parry, said "getting people used to it and testing it in real life now, seems like a good idea to avoid or mitigate a second wave of infections as seen in Victoria".
"I would suggest this would be really useful in healthcare and other environments such as emergency services where you might download the data regularly to check potential exposure and link it to routine testing.
"It could allow you to target testing and isolation to stop potential transmission in these areas very quickly ... Reducing interactions for high-risk people is a really important action and stops you suddenly losing a large number of critical workers into isolation at the same time."
He said having the card on lanyards should make it easier to remember to use.
"In terms of security and privacy, if you physically have control of the card and the password then there is really no chance of this list of contacts being taken."
Dr Amanda Kvalsvig, a University of Otago Senior Research Fellow in public health, said improved accessibility was the CovidCard's "key point of difference".
She said the Government's current NZ Covid Tracer app had "an important blindspot" because it only worked for people with smartphones, "so older people and people on low incomes are less likely to be identified".
"It will be very interesting to see how the card performs in the tests and it will be important to check that people who might be particularly at risk of Covid-19 find it easy and acceptable to use."
On Friday, the Ministry of Health spokeswoman said the trial would be deemed "successful" if it showed how to trace contacts faster, was supported by New Zealanders and if it reached people who might have otherwise been missed with current tech.
She said regardless of technology, contact tracing involved personal one-to-one interviews and follow-ups from a team, "to ensure that others who have been in close contact are isolated and tested".
As of Friday, the ministry had used registration information on the NZ Covid Tracer app to get in touch with 127 potential close contacts with Covid-19.
About 640,000 people of New Zealand's around 5 million population had downloaded it so far.
The Rotorua Daily Post asked five people in the Rotorua CBD on Friday about their views of the app.
None had used it.
John Dadley, a 65-year-old from Tokoroa, could not use the app because he did not have a smartphone.
ShantayGalvin, an 18-year-old from Kawaha Point, said she "hadn't heard much" about the app.
"I don't know anyone who has used it."
Vikram Chundawat, a 27-year-old from central Rotorua, said although he hadn't accessed the app it would not be difficult for him to do so.
Jeremy Evans, 39, was visiting from Whangārei and said he had "always meant to" download it.
"Since things have petered out I've got a bit blasé."
Gerry McNicholl, 65, who has been travelling in New Zealand since the start of the year but is hoping to return home to Ireland soon, said he had "only just recently heard" of the NZ Covid Tracer app.