Monday, September 29, 2008

Technology that eliminates error

I am always on the look out for the claims of technology that eliminate the chance of error. What they all seem to overlook is that, just because one type of error may be eliminated a new type is usually introduced that may actually be worse. I'd say in most cases the chances of recovering an error is usually greatly reduced. These downsides of technology have been known about for many years, but still seem to be overlooked. Also, I very much doubt many of the bold claims are ever properly checked with actual experience.

Here are a couple I have found recently.

Air Products Uses Masternaut Satellite Tracking 18 September 2008. Peter Birdsall, UK Transport Manager, sees this product as "eradicating any chance of human error." I presume he means the satellite tracking combined with customer order information means that delivery drivers cannot turn up at the wrong location. However, what about the programmer error? If the wrong information is entered into the system I would say it would be very unlikely that anyone would notice.

Kelsius wireless monitoring 15 September 2008. Apparently this "monitoring to internet solution removes human error." It seems to rely on wireless sensors being placed in fridges which send information to a centralised database. The information can be used to prove compliance and will alarm if there is a problem with the fridge. However, how do you know the sensor is in the right place or that the alarm points are set correctly? Will this stop the visual checks?

Hospitals purchase blood tracking system 13 September 2008. Use of bar codes on blood used for transfusion is seen as "eliminating the sources of human error." But you still need to make sure the right bar codes are attached and the correct information stored as with this system I am pretty sure most visual checks of data will stop, or become far less effective.

Andy Brazier

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