Friday, 26 July 2013

Computer Problems

It is interesting to see that having problems with IT systems in child protection is not just a British disease. Apparently child protection workers in British Columbia, Canada, are struggling with similar issues to those experienced with the ill-fated Integrated Children’s System in England [1]. The Times Colonist reports that Canadian social workers find the new IT system too complicated. It is said to make it difficult to access important information. 

Earlier this year a watchdog accused the British Columbia government of wasting time and money on the system at the expense of vulnerable children. 

Given that the costs of systems of this type run into hundreds of millions, and given that the requirements are not that different in different places, I can’t see why we are not having a proper worldwide discussion about what systems of this type should look like and how they should function. Perhaps some sort of conference would be a good idea?

My own view is that simple robust systems which seek to reduce the administrative burden and support workers by taking away unproductive bureaucratic tasks, or making them simpler, are the best. What we don’t want are systems that seek to drive practice or to ‘take’ decisions or set priorities. Computers are good at processing, not making complex judgements.

End Note
[1]  see  Darrel Ince, The Re-development of a Problem System, Technical Report no. 2010/ 0417, May, 2010, Department of Computing, Faculty of Mathematics, Computing and Technology, The Open University