NSW and Victoria have become the first states to give citizens access to digital Covid-19 vaccination certificates through their respective government service delivery apps.
Both governments began piloting the feature on Monday after agreeing to integrate the immunisation status into their apps alongside other states and territories last month.
In NSW, up to 500 people from Tamworth, Port Macquarie, Wagga Wagga and Lismore will take part in a closed trial, with the businesses involved to select the participants.
The trial will focus on “staff and visitors at a number of clubs and aged care facilities, as well as selected taxi companies”, the government said.
It is about a week later than Service NSW planned, which Digital Minister Victor Dominello appeared to blame on the federal government.
“In a week of being granted access to the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) information we have already begun successfully testing internally ahead of this regional pilot but we also need to ensure we have the right checks and balances in place,” he said on Sunday.
Victoria, meanwhile, is trialling its offering with 14 businesses in six local government areas with high rates of vaccination and low levels of transmission as part of its ‘vaccinated economy trial’.
But despite the limited of businesses, around 50,000 people had reportedly added their vaccination certificate to the Service Victoria app by 10am AEDT on Monday.
Only Service Victoria allows for vaccine certificates to be added through myGov or the Medicare Express Plus app at present.
Both apps will source the vaccine certificate data from the AIR, which is operated by Services Australia, as long as the user grants permission.
Services Australia deputy CEO of transformation projects Charles McHardie earlier this month said that the vaccine status would be confirmed using a “security token that uses public encryption”.
“So there’s a rendition of the vaccination certificate that will sit in each of the state-based apps that looks exactly the same as ours, but there’s also a QR code authentication feature,” McHardie said.
Service NSW has previously said that vaccine certificates displayed through its app would have the ability to be verified using a QR code, though this feature would not be available until mid-October.
It is not clear whether the Service Victoria has this functionality at present.
Both apps will use a hologram – like the one used for the vaccination certificates provided through the federal government’s Medicare Express Plus app – as its main security feature.
But some security researchers and developers have criticised this model and have instead called for certificates that rely on digital signatures like is the case in the European Union.
“We need verifiable digital signatures rather than giving people the idea that fancy animations do anything,” software developer Jim Mussared said on Twitter.