Wednesday, 29 July 2020
The company awarded the government contract to develop a national contact tracing app has been accused of using false references on its website to overstate its experience.
An investigation by VRT News has revealed that Devside, a virtually unknown software company, displayed the logos and names of a number of companies as clients on its website, when in fact some of the companies cited had never worked for Devside.
Questions have been circulating in the tech world since it was announced that Devside will develop an app for use across the country in contact tracing.
Devside is the creation of entrepreneur Jean-Paul De Ville de Goyet, whose previous ventures include Troty e-scooters, Choupy’s bagel bar and RestoMinute, a restaurant reservation app.
In fact RestoMinute was one of the companies mentioned as a client of Devside, although the two companies are owned by the same man. The same is true for Lawrenza, a personal assistant app for lawyers, and for smart mobility coach Jeasy.
More worrying however is the fact that some of the companies cited as clients have never worked with Devside – until recently known as JPDVDG, the owner’s initials.
The VRT contacted some of the companies concerned, and found that Pizza Hut denied ever working with the company.
“We have never worked directly with Devside,” said a Pizza Hut spokesperson. “Someone who once worked as a self-employed person once built an application with us. We are going to ask if they can remove our logo from their page.”
Another reference, the bank Belfius, declined to discuss their relationship, but soon after the VRT enquired, the Belfius logo had also been removed. At the same time, the logo of BMW also disappeared.
Contacted by the broadcaster, Frank Robben, the man charged with most of the government work in the health sector, who managed the bidding process for the tracing app contract, defended the result.
Robben said he did not approve of what Devside was doing with regard to references, but in any case those were not the reason Devside won the contract.
Devside was one of only two applicants; the other was a consortium involving telecoms operator Proximus and SAP, a German company that has a track record of developing tracing apps for the German and Luxembourg governments. And in fact, the Devside app will be built on the basis of the Corona Warn app made by SAP.
The difference appears to come down to cost. Proximus-SAP were asking for more than €4 million, Robben said. The Devside bid has not been revealed, but is thought to be many times less than that.
The Brussels Times