The business value in the Ministry of Health Covid-19 poster

16 July 2020

The Ministry of Health’s Covid-19 tracing app has had a fair amount of criticism of late. The ‘Team of 5 million’ feel safe behind our borders, and the use of the app by citizens and the download of the Covid-19 Posters by businesses has slowed.

But as we have heard from the Prime Minister, this may be a false sense of safety. With a storm of Covid-19 cases growing offshore, and kiwis returning home, we all need to be prepared for the risk of a resurgence of community transmission.

For citizens, the value in businesses having a poster visible is to create their ‘personal diary’ to assist the public health contact tracing teams should there be the need. And the app will automatically notify them should they have been in the same business location that a Covid-19 + person was in.

For businesses, helping their customers play their part in the ‘Team of 5 Million’ is important. And being notified if a Covid-19 + customer has been on their premises. However, behind the scenes, there are other reasons for businesses to get a Covid-19 poster.

The business value of the Covid-19 Poster beyond Covid-19

Embedded in every poster is a globally unique location identifier (a Global Location Number, or GLN) that is linked to the legal entity identifier (the New Zealand Business Number) of the business generating the poster. The more locations a business has, the more unique GLNs are created underneath their legal entity identifier.

Rather than being a random number of no use to a business beyond Covid-19, this number is an ISO-compliant, open standard identifier issued by the not-for-profit standards body GS1 New Zealand Inc. GLNs are already widely deployed locally and globally to power supply chains, traceability and electronic transactions.

Dr Peter Stevens, the Chief Executive of GS1 NZ, says the partnership with the NZ Government enables the GLN to be able to be used in many businesses’ applications, such as electronic data exchange, electronic parcel ship-to notices and for e-procurement. He says New Zealand is in effect ‘laying down’ public digital ‘infostructure’ that will enable businesses to more easily exchange information, simplify e-commerce and enhance business productivity in the future.

The business value of such an infostructure has been proven offshore in many settings, but particularly in Scandinavian countries who have successfully implemented e-invoicing for small businesses to support productivity growth. The Prime Ministers of Australian and New Zealand announced e-invoicing as a key trans-Tasman initiative in February 2019, expected to reap in order of $30 billion dollars in value for businesses over 10 years.

It’s now easy to get a Covid-19 Poster

One of the early and fair criticisms by businesses of the Covid-19 app was how hard it was to get a Covid-19 poster. Many businesses simply gave up. The Government listened and those days are gone. It is now very easy to get your Covid-19 Poster online in a streamlined process using your New Zealand drivers’ licence or passport.

Dr Stevens says, however, there is still a lack of clarity around whether businesses can use the Covid-19 app as a sign-in mechanism in the event of a lockdown. This needs to be urgently addressed. It has obvious business and customer value for sign-in – doing away with manual paper processes – and would also enhance adoption and use of the tracing app.

Be ready for when ‘The Team of 5 Million’ needs to reactivate itself

Businesses must be part of the solution in ensuring we are well prepared if there is any resurgence of the virus. While initially, there was confusion over the choice of apps available to business, the dust has settled and it is now clear the official Ministry of Health app needs to be deployed and used. No other private sector app is likely to come close to the 600,000 downloads and 77,000 business poster locations using the MOH Covid-19 tracer app now.

While we must see the number of poster locations grow for the Covid-19 app to be effective, it is important we recognise its success to date and the future digital value of this foundation for NZ business.

If there is a border breach that results in a community infection, then it is likely the public will again activate or download and use the app. Businesses need to be ready to do their part.

All New Zealand Business Number (NZBN) entities can register their physical locations at 

For more COVID-19 response information, contact: The Ministry of Health.