Digital design and engineering company ClearPoint enrolled South African company Turn.io to help power-up the government's Covid-19 WhatsApp channel.
The channel, covid19.govt.nz/whatsapp, will make the latest information and news available on mobile for the public, businesses, healthcare providers, not for profits and local government.
The vision for the service is that it may also provide a health check tool and the ability to poll users to keep in touch to help map the progress of the virus in NZ.
Auckland-based ClearPoint’s role was to establish, enhance and operate the solution, based on technology from Turn.io, which is also used on the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) WhatsApp Coronavirus channel, which gained over 10 million users after just a few days.
WHO’s channel is already the largest WhatsApp application in the world.
WhatsApp was selected as it has a massive global infrastructure with two billion active users globally, and can quickly maximise reach.
In addition, WhatsApp provides the ability for end-to-end encryption, which ClearPoint said was critical for potential future use-cases involving health information.
Launching the service last week, prime minister Jacinda Ardern said people were craving access to timely, accurate information and the government was harnessing technology as part of the fight.
“Our priority is to keep New Zealanders safe and get them the information they need to protect themselves and their loved ones," she said.
She also acknowledged the role the private sector had played in the development, particularly former Air NZ CEO Rob Fyfe and Trade Me founder Sam Morgan.
The NZ solution will become multi-lingual with content in Maori, Samoan, Tongan, Hindi and Mandarin planned.
The solution aims to reduce overhead on government services including the Ministry of Health and frontline systems such as Healthline, as well as providing an official trusted source of truth of information.
ClearPoint enabled the solution within Amazon's AWS cloud infrastructure, in collaboration with the Department of Internal Affairs. AWS, WhatsApp and Turn.io..
“It has been a tremendous privilege and responsibility for ClearPoint to be involved in this initiative," Bain Hollister from ClearPoint explained.
"ClearPoint engineers and teams have been working around the clock to get this live. I’m really proud of our teams and the wider tech community in delivering this.”