Australia is doing extremely well in managing the global pandemic that is COVID-19 and while being an island certainly helps, its also largely thanks to contact tracing that enabled most Aussies to have a fairly normal Christmas.
After Victoria got on top of their cases, the most recent area of concern is the outbreak in NSW, specifically the Northern Beaches near Sydney.
Until now, businesses were encouraged to implement a solution to track the details of people who enter their premises. In the event someone who visited that venue tests positive to the coronavirus, contact tracers would consult this record to contact others who were at the venue during the same time.
With digital systems, the job of handing over this data to contact tracers is no harder than exporting a .csv file, but the NSW Government is no longer comfortable with businesses rolling their own solution.
Given each solution varies in their data formats, combining them for a batch sms send would take longer than expected. Something like the way dates are captured is a great example of where things are more complex than necessary.
Announced during today’s 11 am press conference by the Minister for Health, Brad Hazzard and later re-iterated by the Premier of NSW, Gladys Berejiklian, that from January 1st, 2021, the NSW Government will now require all businesses in the state to use the Service NSW QR code system.
This means all customers will need to check-in using the Services NSW mobile app, which allows users to simply scan the QR code posted at the venue.
In the event there is a positive case who confirms they visited a specific venue, tracing that would then be much easier and importantly faster, so contacts can be notified to isolate as soon as possible.
Problems with the existing roll-your-own solution model were highlighted, including some businesses not even knowing how to request data from services providers they’d used for QR code systems, when asked to do so by NSW Health contact tracing teams.
Each Business will need to register with Services NSW and be provided with a unique QR code. This can be printed and placed at the door to the venue and scanned by customers.
This QR code will take the user to a website where they enter their name and phone number, while also registering the date and time they attended.
Alternatively, if a user already has the Services NSW app, you add your details once, then simply check-in to a venue, as long as they have been setup with Service NSW QR code system.
By using the Services NSW QR code system, the data is gathered in a single database, rather than ones hosted by hundreds of different providers, creating a massive data migration workload.
It is a shame that the Federal Government’s CovidSafe app, couldn’t have been used to solve this nationwide.
More information at NSW.gov.au
Later this afternoon, NSW Health published a lengthy list of sites in Sydney, that confirmed cases travelled to. This shows the importance of being able to trace cases quickly and isolate people, as exposure on this scale could quickly lead to hundreds of cases, as we seen in Melbourne.