NSW government trials QR code scanner for COVID-19 contact tracing

The technology is being trialled by hospitality venues in Dubbo and venues owned by hospitality group Merivale.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor

The New South Wales government has updated the Service NSW app to include a QR code scanner as part of a trial that would allow customers to easily check in at hospitality venues across the state and enable contact tracers to quickly access customer details for potential coronavirus contact tracing.

Under the trial, customers will be able to use their Service NSW app to scan a NSW government issued QR code to check in at hospitality venues in Dubbo and those owned by hospitality giant Merivale.

Scanning the QR code automatically captures the date, time, and location of every individual that checks in at a venue.

"Digital record keeping is a no brainer -- it's safer, saves time, and helps officials for contact tracing purposes," Minister for Customer Service Victor Dominello said.

He assured that any data captured would be securely stored on a Service NSW database for 28 days for the "sole purpose of COVID tracing in the event of an outbreak".

See also: Citizen data compromised as Service NSW falls victim to phishing attack

Dominello said the trial would help "test and refine the technology in a live environment to ensure it delivers the best experience for customers and businesses" before the technology is rolled out state-wide.

This will eventually see any registered COVIDSafe business be issued with a QR code that customers can scan using their Service NSW app. It will also be used for customer and staff check-ins at Service NSW centres across the state, Dominello said.

"We want to help businesses and customers to make the check-in experience as seamless and consistent as possible," he said.

Similar trials are also underway across 11 Woolworths supermarkets in Victoria and one Woolworths Metro in New South Wales.

The retail grocery giant announced earlier this week it will be trialling a QR code contact tracing initiative, as well as using Rewards data where it can to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Voluntary to customers, the contract tracing initiative will allow them to scan a QR code at the entrance to check-in and register their contact details.

In the event that Woolworths is notified of a positive coronavirus case in one of its stores, it will proactively contact customers who voluntarily provided their details through the QR code initiative. 

Emails will also be sent to Rewards members who have shopped in the store in the previous two weeks and those who have selected it as their preferred store. 

Meanwhile, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has opened the country's first accredited face mask testing facility in Melbourne.

The facility, accredited by the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA), will mean local mask manufacturers will no longer be required to send their masks and mask materials overseas for testing. Instead, the facility is certified to test masks and mask materials for breathability, blood penetration, and bacterial filtration efficiency.

Masks that are given the tick of approval can then be registered on the Australian Register for Therapeutic Goods, and would be suitable to supply to Australian hospitals, for instance.

The facility will also be able to test masks from other countries.

"This new facility will give Aussie businesses another solution from science to stop the spread of COVID-19 and save lives," CSIRO chief executive Larry Marshall said.

"Science is guiding us through COVID-19, and science will help us grow on the other side."


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