See things clearly
Last month, in ‘Under pressure: IT and the steam boiler’, I concluded that,
Just as it took the boiler industry many years to evolve to the point where it had clarity on flows, and could makes the best decisions about risk, IT and telecoms are set to go through the same pain.
More data flow disasters are inevitable – which means, because we as individuals are ever more reliant on flows of data to live our lives, some of us are going to share that pain.
Here at OBASHI, “data flow disaster” is the term we use for an event where a flow of data is interrupted or compromised, so that there is a negative impact on those who use or interact with that flow of data.
Maybe I’ve just had more time to read some of the newswires this month, but I have been struck by the number of such incidents being reported around the world recently.
Here are a few examples:
Rail Travel A software glitch in the control centre of a London Underground line led to an hour long, "total communications and systems failure”. 10 trains were stalled and had to be disembarked.
Identity Incorrect data in the Saudi Civil Status department’s computer system, means that, officially, a Saudi man in Madinah is not married to his wife – and that she is married to another man.
Health In the US state of Rhode Island, a computer problem led to thousands of patients receiving the wrong types of medication, in terms of either frequency or specification.
Air Travel Approaching Okayama airport, the crew of an All Nippon Airways Dreamliner jet, was forced to lower landing gear manually, when automated systems entirely failed to work.
Shopping A "sophisticated, criminal cyber-attack" against German global sportswear retailer Adidas, forced the company to take down its websites, including adidas.com and reebok.com, so as to protect visitors.
Emergency In Manchester, ‘A high-level alert system – designed for major disasters such as terror attacks – saw town halls leap into action when it was accidentally triggered by a computer glitch.’
Government Low-income tenants in New York received eviction notices from landlords, after the City Housing Authority’s new computer system caused both documentation and payments errors.
Road Travel In Derby, the computer controlling the traffic lights near to a shopping centre malfunctioned, causing a tailback that snaked through a multi-storey car park.
Money On a Friday afternoon, customers of HSBC worldwide discovered that, because of a computer glitch, they could not withdraw cash from ATMs, make card payments, or use online banking.
Entertainment In Oban, a scheduled 20 minute firework display by a pyrotechnics company lasted 1 minute, because of a glitch in its computerised firing system.
Okay, the last one is hardly a ‘disaster’ for the people watching the fireworks, especially as the company involved has offered to do a free display for the town in a few weeks.
But the other examples demonstrate just how intertwined our daily lives are with flows of data – in today’s world flows of data are important, if not critical, in just about everything that we as individuals do.
And that is why it is critical to have clarity on precisely how data flows – just as we have clarity on other important flows, like water or electricity.
When data stops flowing, or otherwise flows incorrectly...we have a problem.
(Although, I do have to admit, occasionally there’s an upside.)
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