A Toronto-based tech company claims it recreated ArriveCan in less than 48 hours to show the federal government overpaid millions for the app.
Sheetal Jaitly, Toronto General Manager Tribal scalesaid it would have cost his company less than $1 million to create the app – a sliver of the millions poured into the digital software.
“How could the government spend this amount of money on this?” Jaitly said while speaking to John Moore on Newstalk1010 Tuesday morning.
ArriveMay was created by the federal government to expedite the immigration process at Canadian international airports at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic era. On October 1, the the application has become optional as the government lifted the mask mandate and health screening requirements for travellers.
On Friday night, some of Jaitly’s colleagues launched a voluntary hackathon with the aim of cloning the app and showing the public how fast and cheap it would be to build it.
“By Saturday noon we had finished the majority,” Jaitly said.
The cumulative cost of ArriveCan has been disputed. While a CBSA report said the organization spent a total of $29.5 million on the app, media reports cited a price tag of $54 million.
However, the government said the figure was “misleading” as it represents more than money spent on ArriveCan.
Anthony Housefather, MP for Mount Royal, told CTV News Toronto that the $54 million figure also includes costs such as contact tracing for officers and primary inspection kiosks.
“Not all apps are the same,” Housefather said. “ArriveCan is not just an information sharing app. It is a secure transactional tool that uses artificial intelligence to verify proof of vaccination.
Jaitly acknowledged that it takes less time to clone an app than to build it from scratch, but he still said it shows the amount of effort, time and money it could have taken.
“Let’s be honest, ArriveCan is a glorified form. There’s not much more to say than that,” he said.
Lazer Technologies, another Toronto-based company that designs and manufactures digital products, also took part in a weekend hackathon with the same goal. In their business, one employee rebuilt the “main app” over the Thanksgiving weekend.
“I hope this will open up the discussion on why Canada does not have the best structure, team, resources, tools, frameworks, etc. to effectively produce new technologies,” the company said in a statement. press Tuesday.
“We understand that mistakes have been made, but the only way to move forward is to learn from the mistakes that have been made and implement those lessons in future scenarios.”
For months, ArriveCan has been sharply criticized to deal with technical glitches, be overwhelmed by health standards and act as an economic barrier for border communities.
As the hackathon wrapped up on Monday, Jaitly said this project should be seen as a long-term opportunity for the Canadian government to use the tech community as a sounding board for digital issues.
“We will do it for free,” he said. “Let’s help our government become smarter when it comes to technology.”
As a first step, Jaitly announced on Tuesday Press release that his company will hold its first meeting of the Canadian Technology Consortium on Friday, which will be free and accessible to all levels of government.
“We hope the government takes this into account in the future, as considering more diverse technical partners in Canada for their projects can help them tap into a larger pool of talent across Canada and help them achieve their goals at a more reasonable cost to taxpayers,” said the Lazer press release ended.