New 111 system 'poorly thought through' - Labour

6:23 am on 30 March 2017

The Labour Party has accused the government of over-promising and taking too long to deliver a new 111 service.

Emergency services will soon be able to pinpoint the location of a caller when they dial 111 on their mobile phone.

But the government initiative will arrive about a year later than first promised and in a completely different form.

In June 2015, the then-Communications Minister, Amy Adams, announced a 111 smartphone app would be developed by mid-2016.

But documents released under the Official Information Act show that plan was quietly shelved just three months later.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment expressed concerns the initial project was "not clear enough" and its timeframe "overly ambitious".

It shut down efforts to find developers to create an app and began work on a new plan.

Simon Bridges

Simon Bridges Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Communications Minister Simon Bridges said the project was "reviewed and re-scoped" to deliver a "more robust, long-term solution".

As part of early work, MBIE discovered new technology and found other jurisdictions were moving away from downloadable apps.

Mr Bridges said planning for the new system was "well-advanced" and more details would be announced in the next few months.

"An important feature of this solution is that a caller will not be required to do anything more than dial 111 on the standard keypad of their mobile phone for it to work."

Labour MP for Dunedin South Clare Curran hears submissions to an inquiry on captioning in New Zealand.

Clare Curran Photo: RNZ / Daniela Maoate - Cox

Labour Party communications spokesperson Clare Curran said it was "another example of over-promising and taking too long to deliver".

"We're seeing this happen more and more. Announcements are made with great fanfare and then it all goes quiet, disappears and eventually they re-announce something that they announced several year ago."

Ms Curran said while the new tool looked as if it would be valuable, it was "poorly thought through ... right from the very beginning".

She said it was the tip of the iceberg what was needed to reform the technology behind the 111 service.