15 July 2021

Are the not so appy slipping through contact tracing net?

| Ian Bushnell
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The Check In CBR app

The Check In CBR app. What about those who do not have a smartphone? Photo: Michelle Kroll.

It’s easy for governments to assume in these digital times that they need not bother with ‘outdated’ methods of doing business.

But it’s an assumption that can land them and the community in trouble, particularly during this COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s all very well to mandate checking in with the CBR Check In app wherever you go and slap a $1000 fine on those that don’t, but for those who don’t carry a smartphone or do have one but it is old enough not to be able to install the app, it is not so easy to do the right thing, short of forking out for a new device.

Many venues, including a major supermarket and department store at Woden this week, do not have signs advising of the alternatives, leaving it up to the customer to request counter staff they be checked or signed in if no one is on the door.

Sometimes only a name is being taken, without a phone number, for potential contact tracing.

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While ACT Health is praising the app for how it is keeping track of people’s movements, what about those slipping through the net through no fault of their own?

The potential is for carriers to be missed, exposure sites unidentified and the vital chain of transmission to be broken.

While it may seem a burden for businesses to make sure all their customers are checked in, that’s what needs to happen.

Government should be offering support and signage to businesses beyond the now-familiar CBR Check In posters so that when someone without a phone enters premises there is no doubt what they have to do, and that the venue can easily check them in or they can sign in the old fashioned way.

Yes, there is an onus on us all to do the right thing, but it should be made as easy as possible for everyone.

We cannot afford to ignore some people or pretend they do not exist.

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The government should also ensure that venues and businesses comply at all levels across the check-in process. For example, a customer should not be able to stroll through many sections of a department store unnoticed.

At least on the ACT’s public transport, used by many who may not have a smartphone, they can use their MyWay card.

But the set-and-forget attitude that seems to be the hallmark of the app system alienates some people and leaves too many gaps.

The temptation to rely completely on digital services and apps to do the work also excludes and disenfranchises sections of the community who, for whatever reason cannot, or choose not to, be a part of a ‘connected’ society.

Even for the tech-savvy, some interactions with service providers and government agencies can be excruciating experiences.

It may be that it is simply a matter of time before all of us do not venture out into the world without the latest device in our pockets, and all our business can be done easily online.

But in the current situation, where assumption has already left us dangerously exposed, the government needs to make sure it has all the contact tracing bases covered.

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I have to reset my app (ie put in my details) on every single check-in. It doesn’t save any history to my phone. Used to work fine, until about a week ago, but now – argh. I know they say it is stored remotely so don’t worry if you can’t see your own history, and they’ll contact trace you if they need to, but that’s not really good enough, is it? Why are they bothering to let people know about the contact sites if they don’t want us to self-identify asap when we know we have been to a contact site. I have updated, uninstalled, reinstalled app. I have turned phone off and on again. Internet and data are fine. Everyone i know has the same problem and the app people are just saying, “don’t worry, we’ll let you know if you need to be contact traced”. Grr. As if!

So what do you expect them to do?

There is obviously something screwy with your phone and it’s compatibility with the app, just don’t follow what you are expecting.

HiddenDragon8:36 pm 16 Jul 21

The future handling of this is going to be interesting to watch, particularly in the absence of joyous news (thus far) from this afternoon’s National Cabinet about the ACT’s demand for a federally-funded small business support package.

The report on tonight’s ABC TV news about the contrast between the circumstances faced by small businesses in Queanbeyan, compared to their counterparts in Canberra, focused more on mask requirements, but the underlying issues are much the same.

If you have to check-in at a shop, why not also require people to check-in at a home too?.
Just like for all businesses and other places now with QR codes, it would be easy for the government to send out adhesive QR codes to be placed on everyone’s front door for you, family, friends and all visitors to sign in upon entrance. Fines if you don’t.
Afterall, the government will say a virus can’t tell the difference between a shop and a home.
That could be the next step for a docile, unprotesting, compliant and fearful population that is incapable of recognising or protecting its rights.

Might be swinging to do with you knowing who comes into your home as opposed to some random rocking up to a business.

Capital Retro10:32 am 16 Jul 21

What is a “My Way” card?

Gail D Gillin10:47 am 16 Jul 21

Card you load your purchased $ value of public transport access onto. For seniors it is on the reverse of your Seniors Card. Available via COTA.

Capital Retro12:00 pm 16 Jul 21

Public transport definitely is not “my way” of travelling and seniors discounts go nowhere in taking the sting out the price of hyper-expensive trades and services available in Canberra.

Even the ACT Government seniors’ discount on motor vehicle registration is a joke!

Has anybody tried to use the New South Wales check in app? It’s pathetic. We went to Queanbeyan for an event over the weekend and tried to use the New South Wales app and it didn’t work. We pressed the button on our phones to use the camera to read the QR code and either nothing happened or an error message came up. At least the ACT app is foolproof and works every time.

I agree about the NSW app it’s a pain. I tried to install it and was taken in circles. Fail! So now I access it via the QR scanner, but it’s slower to use than the ACT one. You also have to log off on the NSW one and numerous times I have lost this and had to start again, which means times are out.

Yeah, I agree it’s a bit clunky, John. One of the things I do like though, is the ability to record your checkout time – when I remember!!!

I know a 95 year old who lives alone is still able to drive to the local shops to get supplies. He does not use or want a smart phone so would not be able to use a check in app. Yes, there are still people who get by without smart phones and they must not be banned from entering shops. If they are banned from shopping because they dont have a smart phone their independence and lifestyle is seriously diminished. A society is judged by how it cares for its most vulnerable.

Capital Retro10:07 am 16 Jul 21

They treat us like we are invisible. Lack of dexterity means it’s next to impossible to even hold a new-type smart phone let alone use it.

Where are the advisory groups representing seniors?

Shops, etc can check you in. When I first went to NSW I had them check me in. A few times I have forgotten my phone, so I have been checked in. Easy. Ask to be checked in.

Well I can tell you, CapitalRetro, that one such agency, National Seniors Australia, has gone fully digital/web based, for all of the information for its members. So all seniors have to do is use Google to find this information … ? Gotta love Catch22!

I tested this out this morning and yes, shop staff will check you in with their own phone after asking for your name and phone number. Whether shops want to allocate staff to do this for grumpy phone-less oldies on a permanent basis is another question. Another interesting thing, you can use a fake name and phone number.

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