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Head of MIQ 'confident' voucher system works after booking site crashed under high demand

The head of managed isolation and quarantine says she’s happy with how the MIQ voucher system is working, despite the booking site crashing over the weekend.

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Megan Main says there is an “unprecedented” demand for vouchers, and authorities were always working on improvements. Source: 1 NEWS

Returning Kiwis need to book vouchers for MIQ rooms before coming home, with the booking site seeing unprecedented demand on Friday.

From midnight Thursday there were more than 10,000 successful logins per hour with more than 2400 concurrent users at any one time and 1 million page views in a 12-hour period. The Government says during a normal phase, the system would usually have around 400 people logged in at any one time.

Computer programmers have told 1 NEWS the system is in dire need of on overhaul, with users currently encouraged to continuously refresh the website to secure a voucher.

Programmer Andrew Connell says that system replicates a denial of service attack, when hackers flood a website in order to crash it.

“Normally it's an actual co-ordinated attack against a site. But, in this case, they've created a situation where they're forcing everyone to do this, because the faster you refresh the more likely you are to get a spot.”

He wants to see a system where vouchers are automatically assigned with seats on flights, or a system that places people in a queue, and tells people how far away they are for securing a voucher.

“You would sign up for a date or a series of dates and you just get in the queue, first-in-first-served, without having to sit there all day refreshing.”

Users have reported sitting on the site for up to six hours at a time, with some families creating a roster system so they can stay on the site for 24 hours a day.

MBIE’s Deputy Secretary of Managed Isolation and Quarantine Megan Main says MBIE is “always working” on ways to evolve the system, but wouldn’t commit to an immediate change of process.

“We do things like releasing rooms at different times of day and different time zones so that we make it fair to people in different countries. ... We’re working all the time with our developers on ways to improve the system, but whatever we do we need to keep it fair for all New Zealanders overseas, and no matter what we do demand outstrips supply," she said.

“I’m really confident the system is working.”