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This Tech Company Allows Venues to Contact Trace Safely and Effectively

Mondo Checkin gives venues and customers fast, digital and touch-free contact tracing options. Here’s how it works, and what it means for hospitality in Australia.

Cafes, restaurants, bars and retail stores can reopen across Melbourne from November (or earlier if case numbers stay low). Dine-in service is back with government-imposed restrictions on patron numbers, physical distancing and hygiene requirements.

Another compulsory requirement for venues reopening (which came into effect at the end of Melbourne's first lockdown) is to take customers’ contact details for tracing, should an outbreak occur. This means everyone who enters a venue needs to leave their name and contact number (and sometimes email address).

But without state and federal government guidance on best practice for storing contact details, venue owners were left a little confused. Keeping physical details of hundreds of customers presents issues around security and privacy, and then there are the issues regarding customers sharing pens and handling the same notebook.

Recognising these issues, the team at Melbourne tech company Mondo Connex launched Mondo Checkin – a fast, digital and touch-free contact tracing service that they’re offering to venues at no cost.

Mondo Connex specialises in public communications networks – services such as wi-fi at shopping centres and airports, touch-free ordering systems and customer feedback surveys. Given his experience with public data and information processing, Mondo Connex CEO Karune Aurora says it made perfect sense to help restaurants return to regular service. The team put together a touch-free contact tracing procedure using the existing framework from their touch-free ordering system.

“A lot of our hospitality contacts were asking us how they were meant to keep customer details and shorten that process – they just want to get on with making food and focusing on service,” he says. “There was a lot of anxiety in the industry. So we thought it would be easy enough to carve this program from an existing framework and offer it to businesses doing it tough, for free.”

Aurora hopes a digital system will make it easier for authorities to contact trace should an outbreak occur – similar to the government’s Covidsafe app. Mondo Connex has reached out to Melbourne City and Whitehorse councils to try and help keep governing bodies informed and aid the rollout of the program.

“Feedback has been positive so far, but a lot of business owners have asked us why they weren’t informed about this sort of thing by their local council,” says Aurora. “Councils tell business owners what details to capture, but nothing about how to do it or how to store information – that’s why we’re reaching out.”

There’s no need to download the app – it’s all done in your phone’s browser. Businesses can register for free, create a login where contact information is stored and only access customer information if it’s needed for contact tracing.

The venue will receive a printable QR code that it can display anywhere. Customers scan the code using their phone’s camera and enter their name, phone number and email address into a form. The idea is that once you’ve entered your details for the first time, you can register at other venues using Mondo Checkin just by scanning the QR code – no need to fill out your details again.

A check-in system that allows customers to quickly enter a venue by scanning a code eliminates crowding in entrances, prevents punters sharing pens and notebooks, and saves venues a heap of hassle. Aurora says venue operators’ main concerns around contact tracing were health related.

“People were asking us how to police contact tracing, whether they should use a communal pen or communal paper, whether they needed extra staff on to make it work,” he says. “This just makes it easier for everyone.”

For customers who have any privacy concerns regarding their data, Aurora says details can’t be accessed or displayed unless health authorities absolutely need them. For more detailed information about how information is handled, a short disclaimer is available when using the system for the first time.

“People will always be hesitant to provide information – we’ve seen that around the government’s Covidsafe app as well,” he says. “The reality we’re living in means we don’t really have a choice in this matter. There’s nothing stopping people providing false information, but that’s not really helpful for anyone.”

Mondo Checkin is already operating in more than 1000 Australian venues, and has checked-in close to one million customers.

Venues can find more information and register here.

Photography: Kristoffer Paulsen

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