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« PET subject | Main | Rushing in »

Meanwhile, back in the real world

By davebirch posted Jul 13 2007 at 3:10 PM
[Dave Birch] This story about bus ticket machines going down Down Under may seem of tangential relevance to identity cards, but look at the details. According to the story, bus ticket machines are breaking down an average of 12 times a day, giving passengers free rides and robbing taxpayers of thousands of dollars in revenue. The figures, revealed in Freedom of Information documents, also cast doubt on the replacement smart card system, which drivers claim breaks down more than the current ticket machines – even causing at least one accident. The real cost of loss in revenue is unknown as the Government relies on the ticket machines to provide patronage and fare data. The biggest cause of ticketing machines being out of order was faulty software, followed by printer malfunctions, and breakdowns in electrical and mechanical components.

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Wait a moment. How can the IT industry be in such a parlous state, so incapable of producing a product that would be considered legal under any jurisdiction with applicable product liability laws, that the software in a bus ticket machine will go wrong more often than the printer? All I can say is that we ought to go and talk to the management consultants who designed this and see if we can learn any lessons from them for the future.

Just to reiterate. If the simple software needed for bus ticketing is so intractably complex (complexity being the chief handmaiden to software failure) that it goes wrong more than the mechanical components of the terminal, imagine what might happen when identity card terminals are at the door of every pub in the land.

These opinions are my own (I think) and are presented solely in my capacity as an interested member of the general public [posted with ecto]

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Comments

This sounds like a need to return to the old traditional KISS rule of "KEEP IT SERIOUSLY SIMPLE". I think that the US tendency to get overly complicated (like the Space Shuttle) is not so good as the Russian basic engineering methodology (SOYUZ-Progress space vehicles). This especially applies to any large scale deployment of technology such as ID cards.

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