On the weekend I visited a few venues in Sydney.
First up, the MCA, where a steady flow of people were wandering around to view the Nirin exhibition. There were staff on the main doors and at the entrances to each of galleries monitoring how many people were in each sector. They were courteous and attentive and the experience was quite relaxed.
Secondly, we went to a pub for lunch and were required to sign in on a sheet of paper. This sheet of paper had the AHANSW logo on top. Apparently this is all that is required by the NSW Government. A sheet of paper and a request for guests to enter a name and a phone number – any name, any phone number and no cross checking. What a joke!
I’m pleased to report that Albert Einstein enjoyed his lunch at this pub.
Later we had a coffee in the QVB – standard table layout in the centre aisle of the building that did not appear to be spaced any more than normal. I guess that is considered to be outdoor seating. There were queues outside some of the stores in the QVB as they limited the number of people in each store at any time.
I was prompted to make these observations after reading this article by Mahmoud Elkhodr (Lecturer in Information and Communication Technologies, CQUniversity)
Dr Elkhodr was kind enough to address some of my questions as well.
Regarding privacy – is there any provision in the tracking legislation that would prevent the collector of the information from using that information for marketing their own business? And if they did how would anyone know anyhow?
Businesses with a turnover of $3 million dollars and over must abide by the Privacy Act n addition to their state’s order. Regardless of this obligation, customers must first consent for the collection of their information. Businesses must explain to their customers that this information will be used for contact tracing purposes ONLY. And that they will only disclose this information to the health authorities. Business must also destroy this information after a reasonable period of time , businesses must as well handle the information securely and destroy it on time as specified under the Order or Direction of their state e.g., (in QLD after 56 days, in NSW 28 days).
If a business wants to use this information for marketing purpose, they need to ask for the customer consent. If they already have a system in place such as an RSL club sign on system, and the business is NOT collecting additional information as a requirement of contact tracing, then standards privacy laws apply.
What about the accuracy of the collected information?
The Direction or Order issued by some states do not require businesses to verify the identity of customers. Therefore, businesses are not required to ask for the customer ID for contact tracing purposes. The customer can also refuse to provide their details. The venue in this case CAN deny their entry (can, and not must).
How does Australia compare to the worldwide effort on contact tracing?
Several countries have contact tracing measures in place. For example, Australia and Singapore are using the same approach i.e. Bluetooth Technology. New Zealand is using a digital diary where users keep a log of places they visit.
Google and Apple have released their own contract tracing solution which may be adopted by some countries as well.
The contact tracing methods or approaches used by countries are in most cases unique to that country and different from others. As this technology is new, it may take some time before one proves to be more effective than the others.
You wouldn’t need these extra measures and burdens on businesses if the COVID Safe App was reliable as I have pointed in my article (e.g., history of issues on iPhones, battery drainage etc.).
That last sentence is the one gets me. The COVID Safe does not work properly and it is not compulsory. What is the point of it?
In the meantime theatres, function and event venues remain closed while tech companies have produced solutions that no one wants because they are not required to implement proper tracing.
Let’s see what the easing of restrictions in NSW this week has to offer.
And to clarify – I do have the COVID Safe app installed on my phone and do support its use – I just think there is a missed opportunity to do this properly, especially as we have at least 12 months of disruption to the events industry ahead of us.
I welcome your comments below.