Ministry of Health’s APP Workaround for Businesses

Having a choice is important for businesses as well as customers.

CovidTracing.co.nz

CovidTracing.co.nz has developed a workaround for businesses and customers that do not want to use the Government’s Covid Tracer App.

What you need to know

The MoH’s app is a mobile app that people are being asked to download. Unverified numbers stated by Dr. Ashley Bloomfield, stated that some 90,000 people have already downloaded the app. Be that as it may, we are yet to come across one person that has downloaded the app. Privacy concerns with the app continue to build up and government’s statements reassuring people that the app is safe and that all the information remains on the users’ phones are weak at best. Here’s why:

Govt says:

  • All the data remains on the users’ phone
  • No data is shared with anyone other than the MoH and that too only once consent has been received
  • The process for this has not been clearly outlined
  • Impact on businesses is unknown
  • Apps hosted on the Google/Apple stores are subject to their terms and conditions
  • Both Google & Apple have servers outside of New Zealand. It is unclear if NZ Privacy Laws will apply to tech hosted outside NZ.

Govt hasn’t said:

  • How businesses are meant to use this technology
  • What if people don’t have enough space on their phones to download the app. Are they prohibited from entering the premises?
  • What about other fringe issues with the app such as the ones we have mentioned here.

Now here’s what we are saying

Contact tracing is important. We are (currently) the most advanced contact tracing system that does not rely on an app being installed on anyone’s phone. In fact, we are quite vehemently against the entire mobile app based solution for contact tracing. It is not right. It is a perfect example of “the fact that some technology can be built, doesn’t mean it should be built”.

Businesses and customers must be given a choice to not have to download the app but at the same time, still be able to participate in the health and safety aspects of contact tracing. Downloading a mobile app isn’t the only way to contact trace. However, the government has deliberately taken this approach to create an environment of “untold enforcement”, not giving people any choice. We don’t think that’s fair or reasonable.

So… here’s what we are doing.

You can generate the QR code for your business from the Ministry of Business and Innovation website. That QR code is based on your NZBN number. Inside the Business Manager console, you just need to upload the PDF poster generated by the government’s website and we automatically extract the embedded information from the QR code in just a couple of clicks. Once we have the embedded information, we simply attach it to the location data you setup inside CovidTracing.co.nz – SIMPLE.

In step 2, you will see an interactive cropping tool that already identifies the QR code and asks you to confirm.

CovidTracing.co.nz workaround for those that don't want to use the government's app.
Automatic QR code detection. Just confirm and we embed the data into our QR codes too.

Once you’ve completed the 2 step-process, you will be able to see the Government’s QR code string next to the location inside the Business Manager console. You don’t need to do anything with it. Its to show you that we have captured the relevant information and in the event we are asked to provide contact tracing information, we can simply tag that data along with our data and hand it to the MoH. This way, we haven’t compromised the government’s effort to contact trace, we haven’t forced customers to download a certain app, we haven’t compromised any security aspects of the entire workflow.

CovidTracing Government QR Code implementation

Now, when your customers arrive at the front door… they have a choice. Use the government’s app or use CovidTracing without ANY APP. Either way, both your business and your customers have the option of logging the visit, and going about their daily lives with minimal hassle.

Why are we doing this?

In yesterday’s announcement, Dr. Ashley Bloomfield gave lots of promotion to a Wellington based contact tracing app that also works by having people download the app onto the phone. As far as we can tell, neither the MoH, nor MBIE went through any public tender, consultation or forum that would allow other service providers like us, the opportunity to work with the government to help maintain a unified system for contact tracing. We have made a request to MBIE and MoH, asking them to provide us the technical documentation for us to integrate our method into theirs, so that the end customers face the least amount of disruption, and still have the choice of either downloading an app, or going through without one.

There’s little benefit in waiting around, so we have decided to be proactive and give our business customers a choice right from the get go. The choice is really simple. You can display both QR codes (the one from the Government and the one from us) side by side, with a clear choice for your customers. Have the app? Use the Government’s QR code. Don’t have the app or don’t want to use the government’s app? Then use the CovidTracing QR Code. Simple.

No need to download any apps for contact tracing

Either way, what is most important is that contact tracing is done. There’s no point in forcing people to download an app and then promoting that to be the novel way of doing contract tracing. It’s not a good look for the government to be promoting just a single way of doing something, that has many ways of getting done. Some more efficient than others, as many of you would have experienced already from using our system.

How to create your QR code poster from the Government’s Website

Businesses need to register with Business Connect to get their QR code posters for their workplace.

To do this you will need the following:

Once you have your RealMe login, NZBN and authority over your business, you’ll need to register with Business Connect or login to an existing Business Connect account.

As part of the registration you will need to provide your business locations and associated contact details.

Registering with Business Connect(external link) — Business Connect

Once you’ve registered your business locations, download and print a poster for each location. Each poster contains a QR code which your staff and customers can scan using the NZ COVID Tracer app.

The poster should be displayed at the entrances of your business.

Find out more about contact tracing, including what information you need to collect, at covid19.govt.nz.

Contact tracing at your place of business(external link) — covid19.govt.nz

If all this sounds like a day’s work and a hassle… you are right. It is important you are aware of the fact that YOU DO NOT NEED TO GO THROUGH THIS PROCESS ON THE MINISTRY’S WEBSITE. You can just continue doing what you’re doing with CovidTracing.co.nz and your customers will actually love you more for not asking them to download a government app (or any app for that matter) to do business with you.

Please post your comments or questions below. We will try our best to answer them.

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