"I have never welcomed the weakening of family ties by politics or pressure" - Nelson Mandela.
"He who travels for love finds a thousand miles no longer than one" - Japanese proverb.
"Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence." - Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
"When people's love is divided by law, it is the law that needs to change". -
David Cameron.

Thursday 1 May 2014

Airport chaos after UK immigration computer failure


'Airline passengers faced disruption on Wednesday night and into Thursday morning as computer problems caused extended queues at immigration desks. Lengthy lines started forming at airport terminals across the country after a fault on UK Border Force computers earlier in the afternoon.

'Extra staff were drafted in to try and reduce the queues. A government spokesman said: "We are currently experiencing temporary IT problems which may add to the time taken to conduct passport checks...'

Coincidentally, Los Angeles Airport experienced systems problems (halting departing flights) within the same 24 hour period :

At least one technology commentator has pointed out that this coincides with the end of support for the Windows XP operating system :

Complex technology projects, especially (as any reader of 'Private Eye' knows) government projects, are notoriously prone to time- and cost- overruns, as well as scope slippage. (Business managers tend not to understand IT very well - the pointy-haired boss of dilbert.com who majored in 'naked statues' while Dilbert was studying electrical engineering is not too far off the mark in some organisations; managers have their eye on the bottom financial line without necessarily appreciating how aggressive timelines and cost cutting increase risk, decrease quality and damage morale, therefore ultimately adding to cost; and IT has a culture for high staff turnover anyway, with a high proportion of contractors, so technologists come and go).

A complete operating system upgrade - involving thoroughly testing all applications, data, and so forth, planning, training, identifying and resolving bugs (erm 'undocumented features'), dealing with political inertia and unexpected costs, documenting it all, putting a support model in place, and finally going live - is a complex technology project. Software development is arguably the most complex engineering of all. Governments are often pretty bad at these things. Governments also tend to be run by politicians who, with some exceptions (Sarah Teather MP and Julian Huppert MP - both friends of this campaign - spring to mind) tend to have little or no technical or scientific background.

"Optimism bias" put UKBA IT system £28m over budget : http://www.information-age.com/it-management/finance-and-project-management/news/2112748/optimism-bias-put-ukba-it-system-28m-over-budget#sthash.dcvdCt7P.dpuf 

All of this can contribute to a certain detachment from reality on the part of decision-makers, which seeps into other areas which involve a little complexity. Immigration is a prime example.

The family immigration rules in the UK, for example, were pretty bonkers from their introduction, and a little thought should have made the probable impact on individuals, families and society clear to anyone (it was patently clear to us).

We can also consider the debate over evolution in schools in the US, or Karl Rove's disparaging comments regarding the 'reality-based community'.

At BritCits, we're proud members of the reality-based community. :)

1 comment:

  1. At LAX it was a "dragon lady" that caused the blackout