Govt shark app concerns developer

21/11/2014 - 05:29


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iKoast creator Paul Holliday.

A local app developer has raised concerns over a Department of Fisheries shark tracking app, which he says it remarkably similar to one he released in March. 

Last week, the department launched its online shark tracking system called SharkSmart, which boasted the ability to update online shark alerts in less than two minutes after a shark sighting has being reported.

The launch garnered significant media covering and featured Premier Colin Barnett saying the tool took 18 months to build at a cost of $370,000 and would enable people to feel empowered.

But the launch has grated on local entrepreneur Paul Holliday, who released a smartphone app called iKoast in March he says is similar to the SharkSmart system.

Mr Holliday said he had tried to get the Department of Fisheries and Surf Life Saving Western Australia (which has poured support behind the SharkSmart system) on board since he started developing the app in 2012.

However failed attempts to engage both parties led to Mr Holliday investing $100,000 of his own to develop the system, which is free for users.

Since its launch in March it has alerted beachgoers of the real-time location of more than 250 shark sightings.

“I’m appalled that our government has wasted $370,000 of taxpayers’ money to copy iKoast instead of collaborating with us to improve safety on our beaches,” Mr Holliday said.

“This was a perfect opportunity for them to engage with a local startup to show their support for innovation and entrepreneurship in WA, and they blew it.”

Mr Holliday has been seeking an explanation from the department but is yet to receive any feedback, aside from an email stating it was unaware of Mr Holliday's development.

The department provided the following response: "The Department of Fisheries understands from the information published in The West Australian today (November 21) that the developers of the iKoast app are contemplating legal action. In these circumstances the department will not be making any further comment."


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