BlackOut2003 - "More sutainted Software/IT needed?"

Niall Douglas s_fsfeurope2 at
Sun Aug 24 03:00:01 UTC 2003

On 23 Aug 2003 at 22:48, Robert Michel wrote:

> Why FSF-Europe? Because I think the same SCADA technologie is used in
> Europe too - I think Europeans should not say or think this can`t
> happend here. There are many example of malfunction of trains, cars,
> plains,.... based on IT-mistakes. By a growing importance of IT for
> critical infrastructure as for daily live - there must be change fot
> IT. The concepts and examples of the RMI, Wupperinst & Co people can
> train the way to think for getting better sustaned solutions.

Firstly, the power situation in the US is woeful - the infrastructure 
transporting the power is severely underfunded ever since 
deregulation under Bush senior. This has been known for some years - 
look for an article about the matter by a journalist called "Greg 

Secondly, the European power infrastructure is far more tightly 
regulated than the US except in the UK. Companies are obliged to 
spend on certain areas where under deregulation they can spend the 
bare minimum as so to maximise profit.

Thirdly, I think it would be a grave mistake to think that how the US 
power companies manage their IT projects is somehow representative of 
everything else. The reason IT projects fail are (in this order) (i) 
lack of experience in managing, planning and deploying IT solutions 
(ii) high churn rate of experienced staff (iii) a lack of 
professionalism by a minority of IT professionals. Because companies 
rarely have peer review or other (costly) proper quality review 
schemes, one or two poor programmers can inflict masses of damage to 
a project. Because of the historic shortage of workers, most 
companies tolerated any poor programmer rather than fire them.

All these things will improve naturally as software engineering 
matures. Until then, usually he who pays more gets a better product, 
and until management understand this they can continue to expect 


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