By Steve Kelman

Blog archive

OK, I'll blog about IT again

My post about the Virginia massacre got a lot of comments, some quite long, and passionate on all sides! One commenter said I should stick to IT and procurement, and steer clear of politics.

I don't intend this at all to be a blog about politics, and in fact I saw my post as mainly reporting and commenting on British press coverage, not presenting an opinion about gun control. Nonetheless, in deference to that commenter, today's post will be about IT and government in Britain.

A colleague was driving me last Friday from Coventry to a community outside Birmingham, where we are pilot-testing the research survey I'm working on here in the United Kingdom. I was fascinated to see in operation on the highway something called an "Active Traffic Management System." As my colleague explained to me, sensors on the road feed into a computer that calculates the ideal speed of traffic that, if observed by all, will keep traffic moving and reduce tie-ups. That speed is then flashed on a screen over each lane at frequent intervals. (While we were driving, on a relatively full highway, the speed was listed as 50 mph, though the speed limit was, I think, 60.) Fascinating, and seemed to work well -- it is an interesting social experiment, because a single individual can free ride on others by driving at 60, but if everybody does that, the system won't work.

Is this an area where the British government is ahead of us? I've never seen this in the United States -- do we have it anywhere?

However, the same day in the newspaper there was a government IT story that certainly reminded me of home. It was a parliamentary committee report on the major IT systems modernization in the government-run National Health Service. The report said the project, the largest civilian IT project in the world now, is running seriously over budget, behind schedule, and looks unlikely to deliver the hoped-for functionality. Since a central part of this project is an ambitious attempt to introduce automated patient records, the British effort is being watched closely by the U.S. government.

This is obviously sadly familiar from the United States, especially for large IT projects. Let me ask my readers a quesion -- please post your comments: what is the ONE thing government customers could change about how it behaves that would MOST improve the success rate of our large IT projects? and what is the ONE thing industry vendors could change about how it behaves? (If you're in government, make a suggestion to industry; if you're in industry, make a suggestion to government!)

Looking forward to hearing from people! Hi to all from the U.K.

Posted by Steve Kelman on Apr 24, 2007 at 12:08 PM


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