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Civil Defence app faces extinction-level event

Locally developed solution ditched for overseas product.

Fri, 24 Jun 2016

A locally developed Civil Defence app and alerting system is being dropped in favour of an overseas solution.

For the past four years, Civil Defence Auckland (controlled by Auckland Council) has used a smartphone app developed by Cloud M designed to provide early warnings about hazards, and information and updates after a disaster hits.

The Auckland-based company hoped the app would be adopted by other districts in the Civil Defence confederation.

Instead, Auckland Council has decided to drop Cloud M’s system in favour of a free app developed by Red Cross, already adopted by other Civil Defence regions.

It’s always a bit on the nose when a government agency drops a local product or an overseas one. In this case, reaction will be muted in this case because it involves a respected non-profit NGO rather than a multinational software giant. However, questions still linger about privacy, data sovereignty and whether there was any tender.

Cloud M chief executive Richard Gill says he understands the need for Civil Defence regions to standardise on a single app, and his company can’t compete with free.

He says Cloud M will take lessons learned with its free Alerter app, bought by Auckland Civil Defence, and apply them to its commercial hazard alert product, Blerter.

Alerter has 35,000 subscribers. It will be decommissioned on June 30.

The Red Cross app can be downloaded here.

Civil Defence got a $6.2 million top-up with Budget 2016.

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Civil Defence app faces extinction-level event