16 Jan 2017

App to help you organise your death

7:01 pm on 16 January 2017

A new online tool that connects people to vital services during pregnancy and a baby's first few months is proving so popular that one is being developed for the other end of life.

funeral, generic, coffin, death

Photo: 123RF

The app - Smart Start - helps expectant and new parents with information about how to find a midwife, how to register a new baby, immunisation and eligibility for childcare subsidies.

The app, which is based on collaboration between five government departments and community groups such as Plunket, allows people to register their baby, get a tax number for the child and change their benefit entitlement if they are a beneficiary. From this year, they will also be able to order a passport for the child.

Since it launched in December it has had 1000 views a day.

The registrar general of Births Deaths and Marriages, Jeff Montgomery, said the app had proved so successful the Department of Internal Affairs was now working on one for when people were dying.

It would help people plan for their death and their family's bereavement.

The key to the current app's success was that it effectively put all the information users needed in one place, he said.

"So all of the health information, the financial information, the different entitlements whether they be from social welfare, or Inland Revenue or paid parental leave, all that information and transactions are now available online," he said.

Mr Montgomery said on the first day they had 30 parents who registered their baby and, with a simple tick of a box, were able to change their benefit through the Ministry of Social Development (MSD).

"Which means they no longer need to purchase birth certificates, they don't need to come into an MSD office and have an appointment with all the delays that that involves. They are able to do the entire process on their smartphone and it's proving incredibly popular," he said.

"It's a fundamental shift in the way public services are delivered to New Zealanders."

Mr Montgomery said it cost close to $1 million to develop the technology that sat behind Smart Start, which would also be used for similar projects in the future.

It hoped to launch the new app in the first half of 2017.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs