Yesterday, we sent a tweet to the Ministry of Health and MBIE, questioning the lack of open standards for other app vendors to integrate with the Government’s app. The Herald was also mentioned in that tweet. This afternoon, during Dr. Ashley Bloomfield’s address, he mentioned that such documentation has now been released.
We have it. And we are absolutely ecstatic to say that the Privacy guidelines mentioned in the scope documents are perfectly in line with how we have built our technology from the very first day. The best part is, for our contact tracing technology to work with the Government, our customers and our customers’ customers still won’t need to download any apps. This is a huge victory for our consistent and vehement opposition of a mobile-app based solution for contact tracing. We do not believe contact tracing needs to be done via an app. There’s too much at stake, too many privacy concerns, too many points of failure.
As a business owner, you really cannot afford to have people getting frustrated when it comes time for them to check-in. You don’t want queues of people, breaching social distancing rules and most of all, you don’t want customers to vent their annoyance of having to download an app, onto you and your social media pages.
You also do not want to tie up human resource, any more than you need to in order to manage contact tracing requirements for customers. Definitely not like the bank branch in Auckland where 4 people using a visitor queue system were occupied to check one person into the branch.
What will the integration look like?
Like everything we do, it will be simple, hassle-free and most importantly STRESS-FREE. Who needs more stress with all that everyone has endured during this crisis.
Scanning of the QR Code
We are not expecting the government to incorporate our QR code into their app so that the government app can scan our QR codes as well. We don’t know if they are going to contemplate doing that. The documentation we have received from MoH so far isn’t clear in whether any integration is strictly one-way or is there a possibility of integrating things both ways. So for now, your customers will need to scan CovidTracing.co.nz’s QR code using the camera on their phone, without any apps, without any invasion of privacy.
The process of registering will remain unchanged until we have received the final integration guidelines from the government.
Government Generated QR Code
As you may be aware, MBIE is generating QR codes for businesses based on their NZBN. Earlier this morning (before the release of integration documents was announced) we had already decoded the QR code from MBIE and were asking customers to upload the PDF poster generated by MBIE into the Business Manager console for quick embedding of the CovidTracer data into your location QR code.
The benefit of this is that each time a visit is logged using our QR code, it is also carries the encrypted data from the MBIE QR code. So while MBIE app cannot scan our QR code, we can feed data back into MBIE’s app through our clever engineering. This means, your customers ARE NEVER bound by the government APP and have the freedom of choice to use an app-less method for contact tracing.
Displaying the Choice
It is important that you make it crystal clear to your customers that they DO NOT need to use an app to scan our code. The camera on their phone is just fine. If they want to go through the government’s process, they are welcome to do so. CovidTracing.co.nz and the NZ Covid Tracer app are compatible with each other, but in the “back-end”. Not in the front end.
At face value, MBIE’s QR code is not compatible for scanning from a camera. It won’t do anything. Our QR code, isn’t going to do anything when scanned by the NZ Covid Tracer APP either. Two different systems. BUT… once a visitor comes through, the data is interoperable between MBIE and CovidTracing. So while on the front end, we don’t talk to each other, in the back-end, we are the best of friends, if you catch the drift.
When you get the QR Code from MBIE
Once you have received the QR code from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, you will get a PDF poster that looks like this:
You will then need to upload this PDF under the “Government Integration” section under the Business Manager portal to begin the integration. Encoded inside the QR code are details that MBIE needs to carry out contact tracing and identify your location. We decode the QR code and attach MBIE’s data along with our data. That way, when you have John Doe visiting your location, using the integration, we will be able to notify MBIE about John’s Visit, if we are asked to (based on the consent process from an individual).
Here’s a quick video showing you how it is done inside the Business Manager
Important things to remember
There are likely to be quite a few teething issues with the government’s app. Knowing that CovidTracing is able to attach visit information directly with the government’s issued QR code is great news for businesses because it ensures continuity as far as contact tracing is concerned.
Your customers/visitors must always have a choice: We are strong advocates of not using a mobile app-based solution for contact tracing. Its over-qualified for the job it needs to do, considering the harmful side-effects around privacy and surveillance.
Today, bars and pubs will re-open. We hope businesses are well equipped to handle the influx. If they’re not, it will be lots of bad experiences all around, with no solution.