Another dot in the blogosphere?

Inconsistent practices, consistent pattern

Posted on: May 8, 2020

When I venture out of my home for groceries during lock down, I wonder at the inconsistent entry practices at different malls.

I avoid going to the mall nearest to home because the grocery store there still draws crowds. But the entry to that mall and the grocery store is quick because the contact tracing is done by scanning the bar code on my NRIC.

I prefer a mall further away because it attracts fewer people. I can also use an app to check out my groceries, so I do not have to wait in queue. But that mall implemented two different QR-based check-in systems over two weeks.

One week the QR code prompted me to use SingPass to share basic contact information. Unfortunately, the app failed to register my details with the entry system.

The alternative was to fill in an online form manually. But since SingPass hijacked the form filling, I could not access the online form manually. So I had to use pen and paper. How quaint. And germy.

Earlier this week, there was a new system that abandoned SingPass. I could access an online form, but had to fill it in twice — once at a mall entrance and again at the grocery store entrance — even though it was exactly the same form. I do not know why it did not save the information.

When the form went through, I got a confirmation screen with the prompt to save it. Unfortunately, the default choice was to Instagram. What? Why? I ignored the prompt and walked down the line.

I should have relied on my usual practice of taking a quick screenshot because I was stopped by a person asking to see the confirmation. It was gone by then because the browser that popped up from the phone camera was not permanent. Thankfully that person did not make a fuss.

Yes, I have just described first-world problems. No, they are not just minor inconveniences. The different practices mean that there is a lack of communication and coordination of data collection. Perhaps there is a huge social experiment to test us during testing times.

As an edtech professional, I am all for the use and integration of different tools to suit different learners, purposes, and contexts. But the building entry system has a singular purpose of contact tracing. It has to be efficient because you do not want people to cluster at the entrance. It also has to be accurate because the information is tied to identification and communication.

My experiences with mall entry contact tracing and what I observe of our version of emergency remote teaching share a consistent pattern. People try different tools and strategies under pressure and they learn to quickly adapt and improve. But the same people also tend not to share their attempts, failures, and lessons learnt.

This is why we forget. This is why we let history repeat itself.

History repeats itself. It has to, because no one ever listens. -- Steve Turner.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Usage policy

%d bloggers like this: