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City of Albany ServiceWA app blitz helps locals keep up with COVID

Headshot of Sarah Makse
Sarah MakseAlbany Advertiser
City of Albany arts and culture manager Paul Nielsen helps Merilyn Knewstubb set up her Service WA app.
Camera IconCity of Albany arts and culture manager Paul Nielsen helps Merilyn Knewstubb set up her Service WA app. Credit: Sarah Makse/Albany Advertiser

The City of Albany is holding ServiceWA support sessions to help community members get on board with the app touted as a one-stop shop for COVID information.

The team at the Albany Public Library has provided one-on-one support to help more than 400 residents set up the app since it launched on January 11 providing proof-of-vaccination, venue check-in and G2G pass functions.

With several steps needed to link information across multiple apps, the process has proved time consuming and confusing for some Albany locals, with demand for support still going strong more than a month since it went live.

City staff held two “mega help sessions” at the Albany Town Hall on Thursday and Friday last week to ensure fully vaccinated residents did not get left behind due to difficulties with the technology.

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City of Albany arts and culture manager Paul Nielsen, Merilyn Knewstubb and Albany Mayor Dennis Wellington at the ServiceWA help session at the Albany Town Hall.
Camera IconCity of Albany arts and culture manager Paul Nielsen, Merilyn Knewstubb and Albany Mayor Dennis Wellington at the ServiceWA help session at the Albany Town Hall. Credit: Sarah Makse/Albany Advertiser

The sessions come as the Great Southern recorded its first two COVID cases in almost two years last week.

A WA Health spokeswoman said on Thursday that neither of the positive cases had been infectious in the community in the Great Southern.

She said they posed a “low risk” to the region with both people in isolation.

City arts and culture manager Paul Nielsen said staff spent between 15 minutes and two hours helping each resident navigate the set up.

“We have been swamped with inquiries from around about the day it become live,” Mr Nielsen said.

“There was a bit of a curve and then it really went through the roof and we were struggling to keep up with demand but in the last week we have added more staff and did this session to get through that backlog of people.

City of Albany’s Ida Heidenberg helps Margaret Oostdam set up her Service WA app.
Camera IconCity of Albany’s Ida Heidenberg helps Margaret Oostdam set up her Service WA app. Credit: Sarah Makse/Albany Advertiser

“It is complicated to get the ServiceWA app set up — it is not straightforward if you are not that familiar.”

Among the more than 60 people to get help on Thursday was Merilyn Knewstubb, who was told she needed to use an app to enter a local store, rather than her paper proof of vaccination.

Ms Knewstubb said she felt “useless” trying to set up the app herself.

“I am very appreciative that we older ones who don’t know it all can be helped,” she said.

“It is very unfair that technology that is beyond me could actually stop me doing something for which I have done everything right.”

The City will be holding more ServiceWA support sessions at the town hall this week.

For details, call the Albany Public library on 6820 3600.

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