A team effort.
Phil Price, from the Department of Health Application Services Integration and Development Team is one of the public sector workers behind the Check-In TAS app.
These days, it’s hard to go out without noticing Check-In Tas posters up in shops, cafes, and other public venues.
With more than 700,000 downloads, it’s become part of everyday life for many Tasmanians.
It’s important to know that people made this vital contact tracing application available for the public and businesses.
It’s an App built by a team of public sector workers to keep Tasmanians safe.
Phil reports that the mammoth effort wouldn’t have happened without the dedication from Health IT workers.
“It is a real testament to me about the public sector. It was great to feel that people had my back throughout the project and were working really hard to make sure it was success.”
“Most intense weeks of working career”
A background as a developer and with 18 years’ experience in the public sector behind him helped prepare IT Consultant Phil Price for the “busiest, most intense six weeks of his working career”.
It started in mid-October last year when he received a low-key request to set up accounts for the Apple AppStore and the Google Play store so we could publish an application ready for download onto phones.
“It took off from there. We were working in very tight timeframes and wanted to get something rolled-out very quickly. But also, realising the technical work that needed to be done, it was a very agile project, it was very, very much about being on the front foot and anticipating what might come next so we could get the system up and running as quickly as possible.”
“We went from that first query to having a version implemented and ready for people to download in about five or six weeks, which, for the scope of what we were doing was pretty amazing.”
The importance of keeping Tasmanians safe was at the top of mind for Phil and his colleagues, who helped develop the app.
“When it comes to COVID-work, you’ve got to make it a priority.”
App success: testament to the commitment, skills of public sector workers
Phil said it was the dedication and expertise of Health ICT workers that made the Check-In TAS app happen
“I can say the project would never have happened without them going above and beyond. It is a real testament to me about the public sector.
“It was great to feel that people had my back throughout the project and were working really hard to make sure it was success.”
“Looking back and reflecting on that time, one of the privileges that I had was being able to pull resources from other areas.
From pulling in public sector workers with security expertise to protect the data, or those from the infrastructure team to make the app high available, “because when you’re getting tens of thousands of people checking in everyday, you don’t want to deal with slowness”, many pitched in.
“It was wonderful how many times people would say things like, “if you need any help, just let me know and I’m happy to jump in and help you”, whether that was taking something else off your plate or working on the project on a day-to-day basis.”
The team also called upon public sector workers in ACT Health, who developed the app, who were more than happy to support the Tassie Team.
December 1, 2020 is a date forever etched in Phil’s memory.
“I remember it well. That’s the date that Check-In TAS was available for download. I remember we were all holding our breath to see what would happen! And we were very happy it worked so well.”
“Now, it’s really nice to see a venue with the posters up encouraging people to check-in. There’s a huge amount of people who are getting on board and checking in. It’s really exciting to see those numbers.”
From May 1 the Check-In Tas app becomes mandated for contact tracing for specific businesses, community groups and event operators who are required to collect contact tracing information.
That’s seen a massive surge in people registering, Phil reports, which drives a lot more people to download the app.
Now the initial busyness has moved into a calmer business as usual phase, where it’s mostly about offering support.
Without ICT, services wouldn’t happen
Phil and his colleagues in Health ICT quite literally keep our health systems running smoothly.
“We are probably the largest of the IT departments in the public service because we have such a large department to support. It’s a great place to work, a place that sees a lot of change.
“Specifically, my day-to-day role is around integration between the health systems”
Phil explains: “We make sure that when a patient comes into a hospital and gets admitted, for example, that all the systems in the hospital know about that admission, without operators having to go and enter their details into the Pathology system and into the Radiology system and so on. So, you have that one point when they’re admitted.”
“We like to get along with our jobs quietly in the background and make life as easy as possible for frontline workers.”
Thank you to Phil and his colleagues for their gargantuan effort to keep our health services running and to keep Tasmanians safe during COVID-19.