Tech titan Salesforce has been tapped to help overhaul Victoria’s COVID-19 contact tracing system

Salesforce is coming to Victoria’s rescue. (Thomas Trutschel, Photothek via Getty Images)
  • Victoria will bring in US marketing technology company Salesforce to streamline its contact tracing system.
  • “[It] is about trying to consolidate and align many different platforms into one platform — that is happening now and that just means that there is less pen and paper, there is less manual data entry,” Premier Daniel Andrews said on Tuesday.
  • However, a lack of verification of an individual’s data may continue to undermine the state’s approach.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

The Victorian government has turned to a Silicon Valley marketing technology giant to help bring the state’s contact tracing system up to scratch.

On Tuesday, the Andrews government revealed Salesforce would be brought in to “deliver a new case and contact management system” as it looks to end the stage four lockdown in Melbourne.

“It will cover the whole program of contact tracing – from positive result coming in, the interviews, follow-up phone calls and coordination of Operation Vestige to the clearance of cases and contacts to be managed all within the one system,” the Victorian government said in a statement.

To avoid any downtime, the new system will be put together parallel to the existing one.

“[It] is about trying to consolidate and align many different platforms into one platform — that is happening now and that just means that there is less pen and paper, there is less manual data entry,” Premier Daniel Andrews said on Tuesday.

In doing so, Victoria will join the likes of South Australia and Western Australia in using Salesforce.

A company spokesperson told Business Insider Australia that Victoria would use its technology to “support the work of its manual contact tracing team” and streamline the workload.

However, the technology is only as good as the data provided, with one expert warning Business Insider Australia that verification of an individual’s information should be prioritised.

“If personal details are incorrect, this would undermine the process of contact tracing. Therefore, if a business does not verify the data, the data is in fact useless,” SafeEntry spokesperson Linda Manoukian said.

States split on response

It comes as the state government overhauls its response strategy in light of sustained criticism, especially from the federal government.

“That is the difference between being open and closed, a capable, integrated tracing capability. And, as I’ve noted, New South Wales is the gold standard,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison told media on Monday.

“That is where we have to get everybody to ensure that Australia can be open.”

While New South Wales’ contact tracing system has helped the state’s health department get on top of its cases early, the differences between each state’s performance, however, go beyond technology.

Department of Health Secretary Brendan Murphy suggested New South Wales Health has benefitted from its organisation pre-COVID.

“They’ve had embedded public health units in all their local health districts. They’ve had very good outbreak response teams. They’ve got a large group of people. It’s not just about tracing,” Murphy said, noting Victoria is in a “much, much stronger position now”.

However, Andrews was quick to push back on the idea that Victoria should have been more decentralised from the start of the pandemic, rejecting comparisons between the states.

“New South Wales are dealing with very small numbers of cases, that’s a different challenge to dealing with hundreds and thousands,” he said

As daily case numbers near zero, Victoria will hope its new approach bears fruit.