The government’s tracing app is another addition to the list of its Covid-19 response failures:
The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union has slammed the Government’s controversial COVID-19 tracing app as a monumental failure on every possible measure.
Union spokesperson Louis Houlbrooke says: “The Government’s NZ COVID Tracer is a lacklustre yet expensive app which was late to the pandemic, and then hardly used. The Ministry of Health slowly developed it in secret, excluding the private sector which repeatedly offered to help. By the time the official app came out there were already better apps on the market which had been quickly developed by technology companies.”
“Data now reveals that people who downloaded NZ COVID Tracer checked in around two times. Only 10,000 out of 800,000 Kiwi businesses signed up to the app. It was a digital diary, rather than a genuine tracing app like the ones operated by the Governments of Australia and Singapore. Both of those were offered to the Government, but it seemed obsessed with developing its own app from scratch. Government essentially reinvented the wheel, and when the wheel eventually turned up, it was wonky.”
Why reinvent the wheel when there was a locally made one that was working?
“The Government should have swallowed its pride and adopted the same approach as Wellington City Council and Dunedin City Council. They endorsed – and invested – in the Rippl tracing app, made by Wellington-based software company PaperKite. That app was released well before NZ COVID Tracer and is widely considered superior. PaperKite offered to collaborate with the Ministry of Health but was declined. Data from Rippl is stored in the Kiwi Cloud while data from NZ COVID Tracer is held in Sydney.”
Another case of government-knows best when it doesn’t. The private sector had released a superior product And using it would have saved both time and money.
“In a pandemic, the Government should have quickly adopted the best technology, no matter who developed it. In this case, the private sector was demonstrably quicker and more effective than the Ministry. NZ COVID Tracer will be remembered as an expensive failure,” says Mr Houlbrooke.
The total cost of developing NZ COVID Tracer is not yet known.
There is no doubt that New Zealand has had relatively few cases of and death from Covid-19 but each addition to the list of response failures confirms that good luck has played a big part in that, possibly a bigger part than management much of which has been less than good.