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The Secret Life Of Cars

25 June 2002

A New Zealand software company aims to make doing business with government departments simpler, with a web-based information system that could be the tip of the growing B2G (business to government) iceberg.

OnTap Information Ltd's 'MotorWeb' has been developed to help New Zealand's motor industry with legal compliance and real-time e-government transactions and its V.I.R. (Vehicle Information Report) is fast becoming the 'on-line detective' when it comes to risk management of vehicle trading.

Technology New Zealand helped the company during its research phase to develop scalable technologies for an e-government platform, with a $73,000 grant through its Grants for Private Sector Research and Development scheme (GPSRD).

MotorWeb is the result of several years' collaboration between the Government and the private sector to deliver e-Government capabilities. The system will support the new Motor Vehicle Sales Act to be introduced by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs. It will also facilitate the migration of data from the Motor Vehicle Securities Register (MVSR) to the new Private Property Securities Register (PPSR) later this year.

OnTap CEO, Pat Costigan says MotorWeb is a perfect example of kiwi ingenuity in entrepreneurial start-up, where Internet technologies and trends combine to create a high-tech e-business system incorporating B2C, B2B, B2G, and ASP components. He believes the MotorWeb system is a co-operative private sector and public sector partnership that will serve as a model for other e-Government initiatives in the future.

The ability to check out a vehicle's legal history before purchase, and the online registration and change of ownership capability, provides both peace of mind and simplified legal compliance, according to Mr Costigan, who believes thousands of New Zealand vehicles have hidden problems that can't be easily detected.

"It can be frustrating, time consuming and sometimes just too difficult to thoroughly check the full legal status and history of a vehicle you are about to trade or purchase. Using just the plate or VIN number, vehicle information is gathered in real time from various government and private databases. The data analysis engine will then automatically display an alert message revealing vehicles that have money owing, are stolen or of interest to the police, have suspicious odometer readings, unusual histories, or otherwise trigger any one of the 42 other "alert" warnings."

Mr. Costigan says there have been some fascinating stories since the Vehicle Information Report (VIR) was made available to the general public, both through its website and an 0800 (the vir) number. "In one instance a young woman asked for reports on three different cars on the same day. The VIRs showed the first car's odometer had been wound back 100,000 km, and the second had a dubious history that showed de-registration and likely accident damage. Based on this, she had a mechanical inspection done, which discovered over $1000 worth of repairs were needed. A check on the licence plate of her third choice showed a short period of ownership, but no other problems. For a very small outlay this lady saved herself thousands of dollars."

OnTap is using the New Zealand market as a testbed for B2G transactions, with Australian and Asian parties interested in the technology.


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