Computer Power and Human Limits: Learning from IT and Telecommunication Disasters
William H. Dutton, Donald MacKenzie, Stuart Shapiro and Malcolm Peltu (1995), 'Computer Power and Human Limits: Learning from IT and Telecommunications Disasters'. PICT Policy Research Paper No. 33 (Uxbridge: Programme on Information and Communication Technologies, Economic and Social Research Counc
69 Pages Posted: 15 Mar 2018 Last revised: 30 Apr 2018
Date Written: March 16, 1995
Failures of Information Technology (IT) and telecommunications systems can kill, cause much human distress and waste vast sums of money. Successful systems can save and enhance lives and increase personal and national prosperity. The immense opportunities opened by technological advances are driving the application of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) into almost all areas of modern society, while the systems to support this all-pervasive spread are becoming increasingly complex and interconnected to cope with the virtually insatiable demands on them. This also means the risks of ever more disastrous consequences from system failures are growing.
Understanding these risks and the causes of ICT system failures is therefore vital to everyone involved in their management, use, development and implementation. The PICT Forum on which this paper is based sought to aid this understanding by exploring the multi-faceted organizational, social, business and technical processes which contribute to the effectiveness and safety of ICT systems. Particular attention was paid to identifying the lessons that can be learnt from past disasters as a means of helping to anticipate and minimize the impacts of potential future failures.
The paper summarizes discussions among the business management, IT, telecommunications and risk management professionals and researchers attending the Forum. It reflects their wide range of expertise and experiences, which contributed to discussions that were rick with practical insights and well-informed opinions on how to resolve key issues.
Keywords: disaster, information, technology, IT, computer, telecommunications
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation