Case Study 1 – The multi-level perspective of mobility management during a pandemic: analysing the case of the Home Quarantine South Australia App

Ned Cooper1, Memunat A. Ibrahim1, Amirhossein Asadi1, Lorenn Ruster1

1 School of Cybernetics, Australian National University

Podcast episode (for background):  Listen to episode 6 – Could COVID-19 influence our technological futures?  

The multi-level perspective (MLP) of technological transitions suggests that, during stable conditions, innovations and novel technologies emerge through the gradual alignment of socio-technical (ST) elements and that transitions can be investigated at three different levels – macro-level (or ST-landscape), meso-level (or ST-regime) and micro-level (or technological niche) [1]. However, in times of crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, pressures from the macro-level may lead to destabilisation at the regime level and the emergence of different pathways for transition based on ’de-alignment and re-alignment’ of the ST elements [2]. 

This case study investigates the introduction of mobile-based applications developed to manage mobility as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia. Specifically, the case study focuses on the trial of the Home Quarantine South Australia App that uses facial recognition and geo-location to support the management of home based quarantine. We use the MLP to analyze the social implications of the introduction of this technological artefact, beyond the trial. We argue that a technological transition is unfolding as new technologies introduced to manage mobility during the pandemic (including facial recognition and geo-location) are transitioning from technological niche to ST regime through a pathway of de-alignment and re-alignment. Attend this workshop to further understand the multi-level perspective as a prospective tool for examining technological transitions. 


[1] Frank Geels. 2002. Technological transitions as evolutionary reconfiguration processes: a multi-level perspective and a case-study. Research Policy. Volume 31. Issues 8-9. 

[2] Frank Geels. 2005. The dynamics of transitions in socio-technical systems: A multilevel analysis of the transition pathway from horse-drawn carriages to automobiles (1860–1930). Technology Analysis & Strategic Management, 445-476. Volume 17. Issue 4.