Sunday, 31 January 2016

Did no-one on Australian Prime Minister Turnbull's staff check that 'homeless' app before he fronted media singing its praises?

But there was Malcolm Turnbull, fresh from describing the latest initiative to help Australia's army of homeless as an "act of love", striding up what the well-heeled like to call the Paris end of Collins Street, Melbourne, where he discovered Mr Kerswell sitting on the footpath.
The Prime Minister stopped, squatted on his haunches and told Mr Kerswell about Ask Izzi, a new website designed to grant Australia's homeless instant access to an array of help, such as food, shelter and legal assistance. [The Sydney Morning Herald, 29 January 2016]

Oh dear, did no-one in Prime Minister Turnbull’s office fully road test this app?

This is just one example of what can go wrong with trusting Izzy:

A homeless person just passing through this little coastal town gets no joy from Izzy when it comes to locating Centrelink.

Although the fact that it has its own freestanding building on the main road might have given the game away as he or she went through the second shopping precinct.

Once there the homeless person can access a wide range of Centrelink services, including requests for an advance payment, changes to direct bill pay, lodging changes in financial circumstances or banking details, submit NewStart paperwork, access myGov etc. 

This Centrelink Service Centre is definitely not an "agent".

Izzy also helpfully lists the nearest Centrelink Access Point, but tells the homeless person that it will take 1 hour 2 minutes to get to Maclean from Yamba, instead of the 15 mins or so by car or 20 mins by bus.

Izzy’s information about Yamba was not the only ill-informed page the app produced.

I can only hazard a guess that the prime minister’s staffers did not bother to look at rural and regional data held by the app or, if they did, probably wouldn’t have realised it was both out-of-date by years in some instances and just plain wrong in others.


This is the answer I received from Izzy when shortly before 8am on Sunday 31 January 2016 I asked about hospitals near Yamba:

Apparently a homeless person is being told the two nearest hospitals (which happen to have 24/7 Accident & Emergency departments) are not open at all today and, yes, the travel times are all wrong again.

The map for Maclean Hospital was just a little more help than that for Centrelink. It showed this:

Yes, really helps heaps, Prime Minister. *drips sarcasm* 

This is what Izzy replies to a homeless person asking where he or she might get food vouchers in Yamba:

The list goes on for some length (offering everywhere from metropolitan Sydney to over the border in Queensland & hundreds of miles inland) without mentioning that after a 1300 phone assessment the Salvation Army in Grafton and Maclean will be able to organize emergency relief such as food vouchers etc.

To be fair, Izzy does mention a commercial retreat & conference centre in Yamba, but as the nuns left there long ago I rather doubt that much emergency assistance would be on offer.

Ask Izzy app is also playing stoopid in the suburbs:

So that would mean that Izzy expects a homeless person to travel an est. 84kms going M3 & Mornington Peninsula Freeway then Link - just to use the Internet. When the Internet can actually be accessed at Collingwood Library via its own computers or using the library's unlimited free WiFi on own laptop or device.

I've also heard that on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland it will refer a homeless woman to a local shelter which no longer exists.

To recap - to date this app gives incorrect, misleading and/or useless information in at least three Australian states.


Valentine said...

Pfft.. they didn't care if it worked, they only cared about the photo opportunity.

Max Gross said...

Well, duh! The app is designed for Untermenschen and to stroke the hollow amoral core of LIEbral supporters. It ain't meant to actually WORK!