Service NSW to begin 'pinging' app users to Covid exposures

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Service NSW to begin 'pinging' app users to Covid exposures

Feature expected to be rolled out on Friday.

Service NSW will begin proactively alerting citizens who come into contact with a positive Covid-19 case through its app by the end of this week.

Fronting a budget estimates hearing on Wednesday, CEO Damon Rees said the one-stop shop for NSW government services planned to have the feature up and running from Friday.

It follows a report in the Sydney Morning Herald that the app is not yet using push notifications to alert citizens if they visited an exposure site, meaning 700,000 alerts may have gone unnoticed.

Instead, citizens are currently required to manually navigate to their QR code check-in history tab in the app to see whether they have come into contact with a positive case.

“The push notifications we hope to add on Friday, which will be the additional piece that’s needed there to draw as much attention as possible,” Rees said.

Rees said that the push notification – which will be opt-in – will only be sent to those who have visited an exposure site in the 24 hours following.

It will not distinguish between a close and casual contact, with Customer Service department secretary Emma Hogan indicating it will advise the person to monitor their symptoms.

Rees added that “over 580,000 people” had actually manually looked at their check-in history, but acknowledged that push notification is “important”.

Responding to criticism about the speed at which the feature had been developed, Digital and Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello said Service NSW had been juggling multiple priorities.

“In a perfect world, you would pick this product off-the-shelf and deliver it from the sky, but the reality is it had to be built and [work] had to be prioritised,” he told the hearing.

“It has been non-stop, and we have to prioritise the resources based on health recommendations as to what is most important to them.”

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