The Queensland state Government has announced the release of the ‘Check In Qld app’. This app follows a similar approach to what NSW did with their Services NSW app, in requiring customers of venues like pubs, clubs, restaurants and cafes to check-in when visiting.
By now, we’ve all been through the process of scanning a QR code with our phones, then entering our details on a mobile website. Left up to their own devices, businesses found their own way to a solution, but that has had a negative outcome when it comes to the ability to access that dataset.
If a state Government, in this case Queensland, identifies a location as having been visited by a positive COVID-19 case, then the health department will ask for the details of everyone who attended to begin contact tracing.
With every business selecting different providers, the back-end databases of these QR services, are often delayed in producing the dataset required. This means precious hours are lost, potentially allowing dozens of infected people to wander the streets.
In some cases the service is run internationally, so requests to get the list of users who attended during a specific date/time range, can fall victim to international timezones. This can mean the request for the data isn’t seen for many hours and then additional hours tick away while they retrieve the data, send it through (likely using an insecure technology like email), which is subsequently provided to Health.
In the worst case, this could actually take a day or more, a time frame that’s unacceptable when attempting to rapidly contact trace and retain the freedoms we enjoy in Australia.
It seems Queensland have now joined NSW in reaching their tolerance with these delays and are introducing their own system. This means when a business posts a QR code, customers can scan it with the app and the data (Full name, mobile number, Email) is sent directly to the Queensland Government.
Customers get benefit from a single app as well. After downloading and signing into the app, you can simply check into locaitons, avoiding having to enter your details in at each location you visit.
If you have visited a location that becomes recognised as a site visited by an active case, then you’ll be notified faster and could potentially avoid infecting family, friends or colleagues.
Business owners can transition to the new system really simply, but registering your business (can take up to 3 days) and re-printing a new A3 or A4 posted to replace your current QR code at entry to your premises.
At least for now, the QLD Government isn’t yet making their app mandatory, but I’d say they are strongly suggesting it.
With two states now having reached the same conclusion, that individual business solutions are a bad idea, it raises the question about other states like Victoria that don’t yet have a unified system. If we were to do this all over again, I would have liked to see a single app nationally, particularly as someone living in Albury Wodonga, on the border of Victoria and New South Wales.
More information at COVID10.qld.gov.au