Why you need to check your Service NSW app NOW: How 700,000 people have missed out on exposure alerts hidden in your phone
- App does not automatically notify users if they visited a known exposure site
- NSW Health has made more than 700,000 case alerts since September 30
- Many may have been missed as they’re not pushed to phone’s home screen
- NSW government said it aims to include push notifications from December 1
NSW’s contact tracing app does not automatically notify users if they have visited a Covid exposure site – meaning thousands of residents may be missing out on the vital alerts.
Users can check the ‘history’ section of the Service NSW app to see whether any of the venues they have been to are confirmed exposure sites.
But many of the 700,000 case alerts raised by NSW Health in the past month may have gone unnoticed as they do not appear on a phone’s home screen as a push alert.
A shopper uses a QR code at a supermarket at The Corso in Manly on Sydney’s northern beaches. NSW’s contact tracing app does not automatically notify users if they have visited a Covid exposure site, meaning thousands could have missed out on case alerts
NSW Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello said the state government was not planning on incorporating push alerts into the app until December 1.
‘Come December 1, we aim to accompany these alerts with push notifications through the Service NSW app,’ he told the Sydney Morning Herald.
‘In-app case alerts make it easier for customers to see if they have visited an exposure site.’
As of September, users can scroll through their history on the Covid Safe Check-In service to see if any of their locations are listed with a red ‘Covid-19 case alert’ icon.
From September 30 to October 25, NSW Health said it published more than 700,000 case alerts.
Mr Dominello said push notifications would become more necessary in the coming months when traditional contact tracing methods are scaled back and Australia begins to live with the virus.
Immediate Communications Director Chris Urquhart said he only found out the supermarket he visited last week had been exposed when he checked his history.
‘Blows my mind that the Service NSW app still doesn’t send you a push notification if you’ve visited a known exposure site,’ he said.
Immediate Communications Director Chris Urquhart said he only found out the supermarket he visited last week had been exposed when he checked his history
‘You have to go into your history regularly and check. I happened to do that today and got a surprise.’
Technology experts fear the app’s lack of functionality means users may be completely unaware they need to get tested for Covid-19.
‘This could have been implemented a year ago and with better privacy controls about how data is stored, which has been done well in New Zealand and the UK,’ software developer Jim Mussared said.
The revelation came after it emerged the national CovidSafe app has been used only 44 times in six months earlier this year – despite costing the federal government $8million to create.
The app has been downloaded 7.6million times but has shared and collected data from fewer than 800 people.
New South Wales reported 304 new Covid cases – slightly up from the 282 new infections reported the day before – and three deaths on Wednesday.
Residents practice boxing next to Bronte Beach on October 22. NSW Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello said the state government was not planning on incorporating push alerts into the app until December 1
The state’s double-dose vaccination rate has hit 85.5 per cent of eligible residents aged over the age of 16, while 93.2 per cent have received one shot of a Covid vaccine.
As of Wednesday, it is illegal for residents to present a fake proof of vaccination when attempting to join the vaccinated in gyms, cafes, pubs and restaurants.
The amendment to the public health order was signed off by Health Minister Brad Hazzard on Tuesday, after security experts warned the certificates could be forged.
The federal government was warned the document can be forged within ten minutes as people alter or copy a version and change the name.
The law states a person must not provide, display or produce information or evidence purporting to show the person is fully vaccinated, unless the information or evidence is true and accurate.
Those who breach the health order can be fined a maximum penalty of imprisonment for six months and/or an $11,000 fine.