The NSW and Victorian governments have mandated that every patron’s details in pubs and clubs must be collected and, where possible, documented electronically, to allow for contact tracing.
In other industries with customer traffic and in every other state, State governments have issued strong directives.
Even so, concerning new research has found that 45 per cent of businesses with regular customer foot traffic use a paper-based system to record visitor contact details.
Thirty (30) per cent do not, or do not know, if their systems meet State Government guidelines.
The findings were released in tandem with the launch of SafeEntry, Australia’s first community-driven COVID-19 touchless check-in app with automated contact tracing and alerts.
SafeEntry enables businesses to ‘check in’ an unlimited number of visitors at their premises using a unique QR code, as well as person-to-person check-in, and trace visitors in the event of a positive case on their premises.
SafeEntry commissioned an independent July survey of a nationally representative panel of more than 300 Australian business owners with customer foot traffic.
All States and Territories have issued a Direction or Order for businesses, premises and facilities that have obligations under the Privacy Act 1988 to collect personal information for COVID-19 contact tracing purposes.
For instance, some Queensland business sectors must collect the name, phone number, email address, date and time of patronage for all entering their premises, and keep for 56 days.
Some South Australian and NSW business sectors must get a name and a phone number or email, and ACT businesses, a name and contact number.
Some sectors in Victoria – where there’s been a massive surge in coronavirus cases – must collect the first name and phone number of those visiting longer than 15 minutes and keep for 28 days.
However, despite each State’s information and advice for businesses required to collect contact details from patrons, the survey findings reveal that 21 per cent of businesses with customer foot traffic do not use a tracking system at all.
Thirty (30) per cent of business owners do not have a contact tracing or record-keeping system that complies with their State directives.
Paper-based contact tracing systems a privacy concern for most patrons
Many pubs, restaurants and cafes are using notebooks, spreadsheets and other paper-based methods – often which can be seen by other patrons – to collect customer contact details.
For many, this has created fears about privacy breaches and safety concerns. In fact, from the survey SafeEntry found 40 per cent business owners said visitors did not feel comfortable giving out their personal details on paper for other visitors to see.
Two-thirds (67 per cent) of businesses said they would be interested in a touchless check-in solution for customers, with an integrated touchless menu display, so they don’t have to worry about record-keeping.
While most coronavirus tracing apps use Bluetooth or GPS technology, the SafeEntry app does not exchange or disclose personal information, mobile numbers, or geolocations between devices.
Instead, it uses non-invasive QR Code technology to check in visitors, and notifies individuals or organisations if they have been in contact with a self-declared case of COVID-19.
The data, which is encrypted with end-to-end TLS 1.2 and 1.3 connections and stored securely in Australia-based data centres only, is automatically deleted after 60 days, as per the Australian Government guidelines.
The app has been developed from a close collaboration between Apiro, an Australian data platform technology specialist and Mountain Pass, a leading Australian mobile development and integration company.
The idea for the app was inspired by psychologist and digital health consultant at Apiro, Linda Manoukian, who, after spending 14 days in hotel quarantine in Australia, found the manual contact tracing process both inefficient and time-consuming for businesses and users alike.
As a result, she, along with a core team from Mountain Pass and Apiro, foresaw an opportunity to implement a digital touchless check-in system with an algorithm that automates the contact tracing process for all Australians.
Linda, and Business Development Manager of Apiro, Petros Petrou, head up SafeEntry’s Product Management, Marketing and Quality Control, while software specialists at Mountain Pass, Nick Grealy and Sam Wei, form the Technical Delivery and Advisory team.
Together, they have more than 15 years’ experience working collaboratively on data platform, telehealth, and financial services solutions internationally.
How SafeEntry works
Using QR Code technology, SafeEntry enables users to check-in with venues as well as friends, family members, work colleagues and associates quickly and securely.
All they need to do is scan a persons’ unique QR code, or allow them to scan their code when they meet up. Users can also download individual QR codes for various locations, such as their home and workplace – even their car.
To do this, they simply register these locations within the app to obtain the unique QR code that people can start scanning when they enter those locations.
Once a QR code is scanned, the device – either a smartphone or tablet – exchanges an anonymised ID, which is then stored securely in an encrypted form on servers in Australia.
If a user declares they are infected with COVID-19, the app will notify all people and locations the user has scanned within the last 14 days.
SafeEntry spokesperson Linda Manoukian says, “With a surge in the number of coronavirus cases in Victoria, and fears that a second wave could permeate throughout other States, it’s more important than ever that business owners can rely on a sophisticated contact tracing resource that can keep themselves and their customers safe.
Our survey results show that even a paper-based approach for contact tracing is no longer regarded as safe and reliable. Customers feel they need a secure, touchless solution where their personal information can be safely stored.
The SafeEntry app helps solve the unreliability – and potential COVID-19 transmission risks – associated with these kinds of tracing systems by offering contactless digital ‘check in’ for customers when they go to pubs, hotels and other venues.
Plus, with digital record keeping becoming mandatory in NSW from Friday 24 July, SafeEntry provides not only a solution, but an integrated patron verification and visitor health screening option.”
To register with SafeEntry, and set up a business account, visit here. It costs $29/month, or $19/month, when signed up for three months (that is, $57/3 months). Individuals register for free.
Figure 1 A hypothetical image of 1) an individual users check-in page at a food venue, and 2) a business using the SafeEntry app to ‘check in’ customers at their premises.