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Thwarted by technology requirements

January 16, 2022

Bottom line 1: Check an app’s operating system requirements against your device’s operating system version BEFORE you try to install apps. You may need to buy a new phone if your current one’s operating system can’t be upgraded.

Bottom line 2: The government and other organisations are locking out and marginalising many people by requiring them to use technology they may not be familiar with, may not own (or be able to afford to own), and may not already use or don’t want to use.

*******

Background

Brief summary: The Western Australian (WA) government will require proof of vaccination status for many establishments after 31 January 2022, including restaurants and cafes. They’ve spend a bucketload of $$$ on developing the ServiceWA app that will store such information and ultimately replace the SafeWA contact tracing check-in app and the G2G pass for travellers into the state once the borders open on 5 February 2022.

Because the ServiceWA app is a state thing and it has to link to some federal information (e.g. vaccination certificates are held by Medicare [federal]), the app was designed to link to your MyGovID and Medicare apps, both of which you need to install on your device before installing and connecting the SafeWA app. The steps are many and convoluted and I’m sure will put many people off using the ServiceWA app as a result.

Issues

On my Facebook page, I raised several issues with these apps in general. Even though I was able to successfully link everything together for myself, this will NOT be the case for many. Here’s a quick summary of the issues:

  • If you have an Android device (that’s all we have so I can’t speak for any ‘i’), you first need to have a Google account to access the apps in the Google Play Store.
  • If you don’t already have MyGovID and Medicare set up, you have 20+ steps to do. They warn you this will take at least 30 minutes. Many will bail before completing the sign up process. Way too confusing!!!! (see the Further Information section for links to the steps)
  • If you haven’t set up MyGovID before, you will need at least two pieces of ID (e.g. passport, drivers licence) that you can either enter manually in the apps or scan and upload.
  • Oh, and you also need a smartphone with a recent operating system!!! And a data plan (at least WiFi). Some people won’t have a smartphone, others will have a phone but it’s too old, some don’t have/use the internet in any way for whatever reason (age, impaired ability etc.), others may have a phone for just a phone and not have a data plan or want one. The MyGovID app requires Android 7.0 or higher and phones just a few years old do not have that (ask me how I know…). Which means buying a new phone!
  • Setting up the apps requires the user to have their OWN email address and OWN device (yes, I confirmed this with ServiceWA). So pensioners, for example, who have a shared phone and shared email address will either have to use paper documentation to enter a café or buy another phone and get another email address and then get someone to help them set all this up. I feel for the hospitality staff who will be inundated with very confused and angry patrons. So many questions… so few answers.
  • You will still be able to check-in using a paper copy of your vaccination certificate. However, getting a copy isn’t simple if you don’t have a computer or a MyGov account. Paper documentation will still be accepted, but again, the boffins in these government IT departments seem to think everyone has easy access to a computer and printer and knows how to use one, AND has a MyGov account so they can access their Medicare records to get the PDF of their vaccination certificate. If you don’t then your vaccination provider, such as a GP or pharmacist (NOT a vax clinic), can print your immunisation history statement for you. Or you can call the Australian Immunisation Register (1800 653 809) and ask for your statement or certificate to be posted to you—this can take up to 14 days to arrive in the post.
  • There’s a massive assumption that people have the technology and ability and willingness to use apps. The exclusion of those who are elderly or incapacitated in some way (and there are MANY ways you can be incapacitated) or who cannot afford a mobile phone and the assumption that everyone has an individual phone AND that phone has a data plan (and therefore apps) AND has an individual email address AND can use all this stuff is a false one. So, my 90+ year old parents will be carrying their printed vax certificates with them to their local coffee shop come 5 Feb.

Further information

[Links last checked January 2022]

 

5 comments

  1. Wow…that is a very aggressive deadline! Is that something that has been in the works since covid started? Seems to me there could be a business opportunity for a kiosk vendor….but people themselves must enroll and you said could take 30 min. Are there libraries that can help? Most in the USA have public technology. I am so with you about the aggrevation and expenses of technology. Just yesterday my pc prompted me to update to windows 11! I’m not going to test all my apps. I did take the free upgrade to Snagit 2022 and was so frustrated with the changing the default save format from jpg to their new snagitx format I uninstalled it. Life goes on! Thanks for you sharing!


  2. It’s, in fact, a nightmare to many people…
    I’m sorry for them.

    But I have a suggestion to the previous commentator: never upgrade programs/tools that are working well. It’s very common they bring unwanted features.
    I use Office 2010 and Windows 7, today, january 2022. I work with programming and I’m a heavy user.
    My current SnagIt is very old, from 2017. My first version of it was at the beginning of the millennium, in early 2000 year.
    And I can assure you that I’m very happy with my system enviroment.


  3. Thanks for that Rhonda
    I have seen circular reference errors in Excel sheets, they can generally be solved. But this (dis)ServiceWA app takes the cake for user hostility!!
    I have the latest smart phone, full FTTP Telstra broadband, 2 mobiles, smoking hot PC, all that the techos assume a minimum to exist in modern society. I’ve used computers since before PCs were invented. I have Medibank, myGovID, Centrelink apps and vaccination records up to date.
    It still took about an hour for my partner and I to get the ServiceWA app up and running. We, neither of us, are dumb but the circuitous nature of the process means you succeed more by luck (and a good following wind) than management.
    40 pages of instructions is ridiculous. Betcha Alexa, Siri and Google would be stumped.
    The actual and technically poor and dispossessed are becoming a growing band of brothers in our increasingly tech society, which is being driven by those who want a quick fix without considering the consequences.
    I may print the certificate off, just to be secure.
    And WHY doesn’t the SafeWA app hold at least a 14 day record of your check-ins. It was a handy feature of the Check in Qld app, especially when we were lucky enough to get back to WA in that brief May/June open period.
    Thanks for your posts.
    Oh, and public libraries. They do a fantastic job of tech help, councils supply loads of PCs and resources and have become tech hubs for access to Government services (Centrelink et al). But they don’t get any extra money from the State for doing it. Their general cost of books in/out and reference work are covered by a state/local authority agreement through the State library. But extra money to help with the digital age? Very little to none.
    Maybe Centrelink should install banks of PCs and staff them with dedicated staff just to get this load taken of local libraries.


  4. Hi John

    I’ve printed off both my standard vax certificate AND my international one (for when I eventually get back on a plane… not any time soon!). I need the assurance of a piece of paper that isn’t made up of ones and zeroes.

    And I totally agree about public libraries and their staff — the stuff they do for people is amazing and is so unrecognised. Some country towns have Resource Centres for this sort of thing (at least, they used to), but that’s not available in the city as far as I know, and they certainly aren’t available everywhere. Again, staffed for the most part by interested volunteers who are trying to help those who are digitally marginalised.

    And agree with keeping 14 days’ worth of check-in history in the app so you can check yourself and not rely totally on govt workers to contact you.

    –Rhonda


  5. Rhonda,

    Thanks for pointing out the huge mistake by governments to require those without either technology access or understanding to obtain critical information via online locations. I’m in the U.S. but same thing happens here. My heart goes out to the elderly especially that are unable to understand and navigate the digital world. They are left behind not only with critical data issues but also with social opportunities that initiate registrations and purchases online. Even some of the phone directories can overwhelm an elderly person. They are getting pushed further to the fringes of our society.

    Thanks for all your insights into tricks and hurdles of technology!

    Toni



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