[This fragment is available in an audio version.]
It’s six months since my second Covid shot (team AZ/Moderna) and thus booster time. Which I found out this morning via SMS from my local (BC, Canada) Centre for Disease Control. The registration process was fast and painless. This is exactly the sort of thing we thought we were building the Internet for, and has lessons to teach.
On my phone, I tapped the link in the SMS, which took me (more or less instantly) to a bone-simple browser form with two fields, my reference number (pre-filled-in) and my Personal Health Number (had to open my wallet to look at the card). Helpfully, that field switched to numeric-input mode.
One more tap took me (instantly, once again) to a list of vaccination facilities. I picked the one closest to my house and (without delay) saw that dates were available the day after tomorrow. Another tap popped up an appointment-time chooser, and the last one yielded “confirmation on the way by SMS and email”; they arrived within seconds.
Each achievement in the following list is modest but above the bar for typical public-facing systems both from government and the private sector:
A single tap on my phone screen took me to the right place.
I accomplished the task without failures or errors.
The service requested minimal information.
That information was made easy to enter.
Interactions were fast and smooth, with no waiting.
Things that were not observed:
What is shocking isn’t that a level of government managed to deliver an essential service with this level of graceful attention to detail. It’s that so many of them fail to do so.
This kind of thing couldn’t be accomplished without the Internet. It’s more important than any dozen Bay-Aryan unicorns and social-media MegaCorps put together.
[Of course, it also helps that in Canada, healthcare is provided for free as a consequence of citizenship.]