Sunday, 20 April 2008

Automation Complacency

It never ceases to amaze me how history repeats itself – and we never seem to learn from it. The same old problems seem to keep on cropping up. In this short blog I’d like to refer to one particular form that I call ‘automation complacency,’ where high-tech devices and a faith in systems lull us into a false sense of security.

Here is an example from nearly twenty years ago. On October 17, 1989, the earthquake in San Francisco knocked out all ATM and EFTPOS machines. {By the way do we still use the term EPTPOS (Electronic Funds Transfer at Point Of Sale) today? In the UK we just say ‘chip and pin.’} After the ‘quake no-one could buy badly needed goods (like food!) because their credit/debit cards were useless with the EFTPOS down, and they couldn’t use cash because no-one had any with the ATMs out of action! Utility had become reliance, reliance had become dependence, and an accident was waiting to happen

There’s another earthquake story from ‘Frisco. I don’t have the exact details, so I’d be grateful if any reader can fill in the gaps. It concerns a company {unknown} that had conscientiously developed a disaster recovery programme. Like good boy scouts, they were prepared for all eventualities. An exact back-up system of their computer facility was housed in Arizona, which could be on-line at the flick of a switch. They even had emergency drills, where all staff rushed to the airport and flew off to Phoenix {I think}, so they could deliver a normal service to their customers in a matter of hours

Confident, or is that complacent, that their system had all the angles covered, a major earthquake duly came, {I’m not sure of the date} and the backup system swung into action. However, unlike in the dry runs, this time all the staff rushed home to check that their families were unharmed!

Has anyone got similar stories of automation complacency?

1 comment:

Govind said...

Well this just corroborates murphy's law .. that if anything can go wrong, it will.