As many authorities had to scramble to deliver new tools at short notice to assist the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, it often seemed that those countries which chose to roll their own solution were taking the greatest risk in terms of high cost, delays and poor performance and that a more generic solution delivered by the larger technology companies was a much more efficient route to take.
Unfortunately, it appears Microsoft is doing much to dissuade us of that notion, as the company’s Coronoavirus vaccine scheduling software has failed another state, reports Bloomberg.
Users of Microsoft’s solution in the District of Columbia are reporting several days of multiple issues, including slow loading websites, website crashes and 503 errors.
Adventures in DC vaccine scheduling:
– Phone hotline says it's not a working number
– Website loading at tortoise speed
– Finally get to Q+A page
– Says Captcha is wrong (it's not)
– HTTP Error 503 This service is unavailable
– Webpage crashed
— Kayla Tausche (@kaylatausche) February 26, 2021
Another user said “It’s unclear how a website could be this dysfunctional. I don’t even know if I got the appointment or not.”
In a joint statement, Microsoft admitted “that our efforts have fallen short” and vowing to address the problems. “We understand the frustration of individuals who attempted to utilize the District’s vaccination appointment portal this week,” they said and “we are committed to address technical issues so that the vaccination appointment portal is properly functional and accessible.”
The online appointments that were made available today are now booked.
We know this morning was very frustrating for many people. We are working with Microsoft to understand why heavy traffic caused some eligible individuals to not get through.
— DC Health (@_DCHealth) February 25, 2021
Microsoft’s solution had similar problems in New Jersey, with Governor Phil Murphy complained about significant glitches in the state’s Microsoft-built vaccination scheduling system while Iowa backed out of plans to use the solution “after learning more about the breadth of Microsoft’s solution and reviewing the challenges faced by some other states.”
The Council of the District of Columbia plans to hold a hearing March 4 to investigate the issues.