Stichting Open Nederland (SON) is Dutch for The Open Netherlands Foundation. They’re an independent non-profit organization funded by the government to help people book COVID-19 test appointments via government-approved test providers. Their mission is to contribute “to the gradual reopening of social life in the Netherlands as long as the coronavirus pandemic is not yet under control” via theirTesten voor Toegang (Testing for Entry) platform. Up to today, they have facilitated more than 7 million bookings at hundreds of locations operated by over two dozen companies across the country.
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While SON’s mission is noble, the government must ensure that citizens signing up for COVID tests via Testen voor Toegang could confirm their identity and would receive only their own test results.
SMS was chosen as one of the authentication methods for user verification, in combination with an ID check at the testing facility and use of the national app “CoronaCheck” for generating unique QR codes Therefore, SON needed an SMS provider that could ensure a high delivery rate at scale — think millions of messages to facilitate visits to events, bars, restaurants and sports matches with a COVID-19 test.
A high delivery rate was especially essential, as people would not be able to visit their events without a QR code.
Additionally, as a government project, GDPR and other regulatory compliance were vital considerations for finding the right SMS provider: Uptime of 99.9%, uninterrupted handling of 400K SMS per day, and round-the-clock proactive network monitoring.
SON learned that Bird could meet those high standards. Bird’s scalability and high delivery rates made them a good match for SON. Because of its integration with Bird’s SMS API, users who signed up for a COVID-19 test could successfully verify their test appointments. Plus, SON could then send an SMS notification informing users that their test results were available to view.
As a government project, the security and privacy of customers’ data and GDPR compliance were paramount. Bird’s extensive experience with sensitive data and their work with some of the biggest companies in the world came in handy.
Other privacy features that made the partnership with MessageBird a good fit included:
An EU data center
Information accessibility to employees is on a need-to-know basis
How it looks
With Bird, SON has sent over 21 million messages so far— to people trying to set up a COVID-19 test appointment with approved test centers.
There are many reasons that can impact whether an SMS message gets delivered: for example, the person could have entered an invalid or wrong phone number, entered a landline number that can’t receive text messages, or have their mobile turned off at time of sign up.
Despite these challenges, SON was able to achieve a delivery rate for its SMS notifications of well over 99%, leaving just a small number of people who get assistance from their helpdesk to book an appointment. With Bird, SON ensures that SMS messages are sent through one of the most reliable forms of communication.
"Bird takes care of SMS delivery to verify COVID test appointments and provides overviews and insights into our usage of the services."
Bernd Talsma, Product Owner