back to article Ten grand - the cost of iPhone-induced sobriety

The NHS spent ten thousand pounds developing the mobile version of its sobriety-inducing application, Drinks Tracker for iTunes. The application is part of the government's seasonal campaign to get us to drink less - on which they have already spent £9 million of our cash - but it took a Freedom of Information request to break …

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Happy

Here's how to help...

...phone users in pubs, cut down on drininking.

When they start talking loudly at a dining table, messing with their phne at bar, thus holding people up, or generally being a pain in the arse.

Take said phone, drop in drink, some drink will overflow, thus less to actually drink.

Win Win !

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N2

Are this lot for real?

If Im completely shit faced the last thing on my mind is fiddling with my iPhone.

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Go

Too true

If I'm completely shit-faced I'd rather fiddle with my missus

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Thumb Down

Keep our taxes in the fraternity?

The leaked Common Purpose list (google "CP_master_db.xls") shows how riddled the NHS is with these people.

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Pint

Morning?

Well, if you've made it in the following morning, then the answer to the 'how much did you drink last night' question is clearly 'not enough'.

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Pirate

Not Necessarily,

There are times when a stagger into work and hiding your head under the desk for a few hours are infinitely more preferable to the nagging of the other half (presumably for staggering home blotto, making any number of messes etc...)

Also, you will find that contractors won't EVER take a sickie unless they're halfway through death's door (it has been known for a few to be removed from their desks in a coffin/body bag).

/ Pirate icon due to alcohol poisoning....

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Pint

Badge of honour?

Can the app upload your score to a central high-score board? Otherwise, what's the point?

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is that all?

I would have thought the NHS would have paid at least a million for such a poor piece of software. Maybe the budget cuts are finally hitting home (or maybe their software procurement team have a intern who accidentally knows what they are doing)

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Go

"a bit like a nagging partner only without the benefits"

... Which makes the the prospect of removing it that much more appealing (and probably a lot easier than with said nagging partner).

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FAIL

No uninstaller.

Correct me if I'm wrong but I couldn't find any way to uninstall the desktop app either through the start menu or add/remove programs.

Very shoddy.

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Anonymous Coward

Nagging partner benefits?

Oh yes . . . the ironing.

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Joke

Enter the alcohol content?

'Beyond the wit of the average iPhone user'

There, I fixed it for you. Seems you'd managed to slip in an extra word there..

Joke, the average jeebus phone fanboi.

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h 6
FAIL

Give it a rest.

Dude, for real. Have some manners. Sorry if my having an iphone gives you a conniption.

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Anonymous Coward

Lame and expensive

At Munich's Oktoberfest, on the other hand, the send around lovely ladies with breathalysers.

Much more uptake, much more accurate and people actually pay to be tested!

Of course, they give you a certificate based on your alcohol / blood level rather than suggesting you've had enough, but the idea's sound.

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FAIL

£10,000?!

For something a first year programming student could bang out in about a day?

I need to find myself a government sponsered software development company to work for.

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Thumb Up

...without the benefits?

>previous night - a bit like a nagging partner only without the benefits.

I would have thought only nagging about the drinking issues and nothing else would be a better benefit than the "standard nagging partner". :)

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Pint

Ridiculous waste of money

We're in one of the worst recessions the world has ever known and the gov is spending 10k developing an iPhone application to tell you that you've had too much to drink?

I want to say its unbelievable, but given the way they've wasted our cash lately, its perfectly believable.

The fact that it requires a unit count to do its thing is just making things even worse. Most people i know couldnt tell you how many units were in a bottle of Stella vs a bottle of 1664 vs a pint of Guinness vs a vodka and coke... so what hope have they of estimating the sum of all of those things, especially having already consumed them all.

It would be better if they developed a simple "touch your nose & walk in a straight line" style test that you could do on your phone. Perform the test when sober to get a benchmark and perform it again throughout the night so it can tell you when you have clearly had enough to drink.

"how many units have you had?"

"errrrrr *burp* 50 i think"

"you should stop drinking"

"no that cant be right, it must only have been 5, i dunno how many units are in a pint anyway".

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Thumb Down

a partner without the benefits?

you're a newly wed then?

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10grand?

Bloody cheap, really... we'd have charged them 25k and we're one of the cheaper companies.

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Anonymous Coward

moo

10K is a bit steep for something to simples? but 29p per person, not so bad

I'd have made it for 2K

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Unhappy

Waste of money

Considering the numbers of iPhones it will hit a very tiny proportion of drinkers as to be basically ineffectual. 35,000 downloads does not equate to 35,000 users and as a proportion of all drinkers (millions) it means nothing.

What did the do, give it to some massive software house (EDS/HP, Crapita, etal) who charged for a whole new Mac as well as the programmer's costs and the coffee they drank. Looks like it could have been knocked up by a single programmer in a weekend (I see from the comments in the article about the app itself that some nearly thought about doing it). And did they not think of the side effects that it might lead to points scoring between mates and so counter productive. Nor the fact that the program is useless as who knows the strength of beers let alone wines and what about cocktails with mixes.

I can see that they might reply with the "so you want people to drink without any responsibility" argument, but there are better ways of spending £10K which doesn't include yet more TV/radio advertisements (of which there are too many government propaganda items already). What about spending it on charities who help alcoholics, presentations at schools, changing the law to make licensees more responsible for their customer's behaviour, etc. They might already be spending money on these things but it would still be better to spend the £10K on them than waste it on a new high tech app just to show that they are "with it" and up to date. Sometimes good old old fashioned methods work better.

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FAIL

35,000 downloads, how many users?

How many of the downloads were tests done by the app developers?

How many were people in the NHS testing the app?

How many were people reviewing it on their blog, etc. because it sounded like such a crazy app?

Now we are left with how many actually use it..........

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IT Angle

Forgetting pleasure...ability :)

Yet another set of developers / business analysts / doctors / etc... forget the pleasurability and playfulness factor in selling software! Or rather, how important those things are when your goal is to have many people like your software and want to use it.

(Said the User eXperience Designer, giggling to herself in a corner)

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Thumb Down

Thats about right

It costs about 10k to build a professional iPhone app, you would be slaggin the NHS off if they had a crew of students in tinkering with XCode.

Also, they are not the first government organisation to spend this kind of money on iPhone apps, its actually quite low as far as previous governmental apps go.

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Pint

Fail for another reason

It will be like the tamagochi phase*1 and asbo certificates*2.

There will be competitions to get the highest score. The iPhone crowd will drink more.

*1 How fast can you kill a tamagochi?

*2 How many Asbo certificates can you get?

*3 If I don't spell tamagochi right, it's because I don't care (now where's my cerbeza?)

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Coat

@BristolBachelor

Do you care that you spelled "cerveza" wrong? Yes, it's how its pronounced, but not spelled the same :)

Crazy spaniards.

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Thumb Up

Probably a saving

Firstly, this isn't the cost of just the iPhone version, but then when does the Reg ever miss an opportunity to bash Apple?

Anyway, do the people moaning about this know how much it costs to care for and treat people who injure themselves (or others) through drink? If this 10k app stops even one person causing an accident by drink driving, or being the victim of an assault, it will have probably have paid for itself. Just one.

You self-obsessed right-wing nutjobs need to use logic rather than just anger sometimes.

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Pint

You're all wrong.

I'm one of the 35,000 who downloaded the app - just for interest mind, and to my surprise I've found it useful.

On using it, I was immediately surprised at how many more units I was really drinking compared to my estimated units. Some of the rather nice "niche" beers with alcohol rates of 6% or above can register 4 units (or more) per measure depending on the serving size. It was the same with new world wines - 14% wines drunk in "medium" servings come in at 3 units.

Having used the application for only 2 weeks, my drinking behaviour has already changed. Seeing that just 6 pints of decent beer in one night represents a whole week of "safe drinking" has made me:

- drink strong beer less frequently

- switch to smaller servings

- drink less volume overall

Quite a lot of the people I've shown it to have been similarly surprised at how strong their drinks really are.

For a £10K investment to be fully recovered over the 7 -8 year time frame the NHS uses would require less than one A&E visit a month to be avoided which assuming the application continues to be downloaded represents a pretty good investment.

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Stop

Nope

Oh dear. Either you're a party activist or there are actually poor sods out there who think that "alcohol units" mean anything other than fuck-all.

The idea of 'safe drinking' is, frankly, dangerous nonsense. Alcohol is toxic. It doesn't magically turn toxic after the third pint - one small glass of wine is still one small glass of poison. However, your body is resilient and self-repairing, which means that it can cope with a certain amount. How much it can cope with depends on your height, weight, previous drinking and the luck of the genes tombola. It's up to the individual not to poison themselves to the extent it becomes a problem which spills over into other areas in life.

Universal limits are meaningless, and, in fact, one of the scientists that was paid to come up with those limits actually admitted some months ago that they plucked the figures out of thin air.

There are many good reasons to decrease your alcohol consumption - e.g. if you wake up feeling like shit on a regular basis, or have a tendency to hit people, forget where your house is, or do other things under the influence that you later regret, or if you're putting on weight. But believing that you're endangering yourself by drinking more than some invented government figures is senseless. These are people, remember, who believe that marijuana and ecstacy are more dangerous than alcohol, when it is a straightforward chemical fact that they are not. Choosing to believe what such people say is a form of mental illness.

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Happy

+1

That is all.

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Pint

@ "Nope"

What a pointless post Mr / Ms / Mrs Nope.

The key point in my response is that using the application has made me more aware of the amount I drink and in turn, has led to a reduction.

You write that there's no safe limit for drinking, but amongst others, the WHO and CRUK both advocate drinking less than 2 drinks a day. What's your evidence? You also ignored that increased awareness for actual alcohol intake may lead some people to drink less and thereby experience other health related benefits - not landing up fighting strangers and vomiting in the back of ambulances to name but to.

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@AC

I know people who have regularly drunk more than 2 drinks a day (albeit I have no idea what you're now defining as a drink) and have reached old age with no ill effects. I also know people who can barely manage one drink without falling over. For the latter to blindly assume that the polits know best would be dangerous; the former would just go through life not enjoying themselves as much as they could.

The diversity of the human race is such that universal limits are total political fantasy.

And my point is that you should determine your drinking level by the real benefits, not the fantasy ones. If you follow the government fantasy then you'll just get confused when they change it.

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h 6
Megaphone

The lot of you

(I finally got to use that phrase!)

The whole point is to draw awareness to the amount of drinks one has, not to set a national limit, or to nag you. If one becomes aware of actually how much one drinks, then that person at least has the knowledge to choose to drink less.

And yes, drinking less is healthier than being slosh.

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El
FAIL

Redundant

Don't they already have a device to remind you that you're drinking to much... I believe it's called a wallet. Also, if you can remember the next morning exactly how many drinks you had the night before, well then you obviously didn't have enough.

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El
Heart

Missed opportunity

If this thing could monitor your alcohol intake and stop you from drunk-dialing your ex, well then you would have a winning application!

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Anonymous Coward

Something tells me

the kind of people who regularly spend their evenings drinking until they're at deaths door... probably care very little about their alcohol intake.

On the other hand, the kind of person who is interested in monitoring their alcohol intake will probably never be found unconscious in a pool of their own vomit anyway.

That said, £10k isn't much for a government project, when you look at the billions they squander elsewhere it's hard to even care about this sort of "small change" any more. And they had good intentions this time, I guess.

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Pirate

What about the accelerometer?

Couldn't that be used to tell if the owner's staggering around three sheets to the wind?

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Law
Unhappy

"a bit like a nagging partner only without the benefits"

What are these benefits of which you speak??

*notes shrill voice in background, something about typing noises so late at night* .... yes dear... right away dear... :(

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WTF?

What a waste...

The NHS is wasting a vast amount of money on the development of a useless application for a mediocre device that is only used by a small percentage of the population - mostly the executives all trying desperately to fit-in with the 'latest' fashion accessory.

I hope someone is getting sacked.

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dom
WTF?

Blow It

It be better if you just had to blow into the iPhone and it gave you a reading, thats £10k worth spending.

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Anonymous Coward

@Paul Charters

"I hope someone is getting sacked."

Sacked? I suspect an "Engaging With The Target Demographic In An Inclusive Fashion" Award coming on. Especially if someone points out that the smooth surface of an iPhone lends itslef to disinfection, thus also hitting hte MRSA and Pandemic Flu targets.

If only it killed chlamydia too it would be NHS Project of The Year.

AC cos of NHS connections and if they detect you're not taking your mind control supplements, they send Matron round. And not in a good way.

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