SA govt trials home quarantine app with facial recognition, GPS tracking

The South Australian government is set to trial a smartphone app that uses facial recognition and geolocation to confirm a person’s location during home quarantine.

The government will trial the app known as Home Quarantine SA with 50 residents who are required to undertake 14 days of quarantine on return from interstate locations this week.

The app will allow trial participants to “confirm their location with regular check-ins” through a live face check-in feature that uses facial recognition and location verification.

It gives individuals 15 minutes to respond to the random location verification requests at their registered location.

The app also offers trial participants access to their testing schedule, the ability to complete daily symptom checks and access health and wellbeing resources.

The government said the use of this “innovative technology” will ensure people are “compliant with their home quarantine directions” and “are at their approved home quarantine address”.

If the trial proves successful, it envisages that Home Quarantine SA will become another tool to reduce spread, joining the QR code check in feature through the mySA Gov app.

Premier Steven Marshall said that like “COVID SAfe Check In, the new Home Quarantine SA app has stringent security features that ensures participant information is kept secure”.

“This innovative technology is the most advanced of its kind in Australia,” he said, adding that it could provide more options and “improved outcomes” for returning travellers in the future.

Marshall said that any future expansion of home quarantine would be preceded by a “thorough evaluation of the trial”.

“It must be reiterated this is a trial, and the outcomes and lessons learnt from it will be foremost amongst any decision to continue or expand it,” he said.

In response to iTnews’ questions, a spokesperson for the Department of Premier and Cabinet said the app was “developed from scratch over two-and-a-half months” by the government’s digital team.

SA Health had originally signed a $1.1 million deal with Perth-based software company GenVis for a ‘Covid-19 home quarantine compliance digital application’ last year.

GenVis is behind WA’s G2G Now app, which also uses facial recognition and location data to confirm a person’s location during home quarantine.

But following criticism over the app’s performance, health minister Stephen Wade told state parliament three months later that the relationship had ended.

“My understanding is that the development proposal with that company hasn’t been successful and our relationship with them in relation to that project will not continue,” he said in February.

Wade said that the Genvis contract was subsequently reduced to $25,300.

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