Your shout: ID card problems, toxic hardware and struggling police

Readers' views on the week's news

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Change to ID cards plan is really the same old thing

Guy Herbert, NO2ID

With regard to Bill Goodwin's article on the ID cards scheme (Computer Weekly, 23 January), there is no administrative u-turn. The fundamental objective - to underpin the "transformational government" data-sharing wheeze - is unchanged. The National Identity Register, hard-wired into the legislation, is unchanged.

What has changed is the impression given in the implementation plan, which was always very hazy. From one mush to another does not count as a u-turn in my book: more like four-wheel drift. There never has been a technological specification, or any firm commitment on architecture, and Hall implies there still isn't - two years into the planning and with more than £60m spent on it.

The "new" approach - adapt legacy systems rather than build from scratch - is not calculated to cut risks or costs. Quite the reverse.

Is it easier to build a new system and populate it, perhaps with a bit of parallel running, from old ones and new data? Or would you prefer to rebuild two-and-a-half old systems, retrofit each with an additional data-security architecture and integrate the lot - while they are all live?

It is obviously neither easier nor cheaper to do it the second way. But it does fulfil other government objectives. It provides lots of excuses for scrapping data-protections when they prove too awkward. And splitting the project across three departments while merging it with existing budgets is a great way of hiding the real costs from parliament and taxpayers.

Don't make a pig's ear of ID cards - keep it simple

David Gent

On the matter of ID cards, why can't the government ever learn anything? It makes a right pig's ear of every IT project by over complicating it. Instead it should apply the Kiss principle (keep it simple, stupid!).

Toxic hardware is just a drop in green IT bucket

John Hardy

The recent discussion of green issues in IT seems to be teetering on the edge of green tokenism. The toxic waste and fossil-fuel-burn issues of our hardware pale into utter insignificance when compared to those generated by commuting and business travel.

My company buys everyone a laptop (no desktops), a backpack to carry it in (some people use bikes), provides a virtual private network and encourages folk to work at home for part of the week. They will cough up a couple of hundred pounds for train tickets to London rather than using a car (which would be cheaper). They do not make a green fuss about it. They just do it. I am very proud of them.

Toxins generated in laptop manufacture? Bah, humbug: a drop in the bucket.

Don't hold your breath for IT-savvy local police

William Old

In the article "Police struggle to handle cybercrime, say Microsoft and open source advocates" (www.computerweekly.com/221345) Alan Cox, speaking on behalf of the open source community, says, "If you walk up to the desk sergeant at a typical police station he does not understand the problems."

The "typical police station" will not have any police officer - far less a "desk sergeant" - anywhere near the public counter, and have not for years: they have all been replaced by uniformed civilian staff.

With 53% of the police service due to retire in the next five years due to massive recruitment in the 1970s, and the most gloomy forecast for some years for police finances, can you really be surprised that this area of policing is a low priority?

It does not provide any "offences brought to justice" to feed this government's fetish for performance measurement, so do not hold your breath for a friendly neighbourhood IT- savvy bobby just yet. It ain't gonna happen.

New set of CIOs must not fall into old trap

Joanna Sedley-Burke, Sovereign Business Integration

From the mid to late 1990s, many businesses gave IT departments a seat on the board, but many in the IT industry lost their business focus and so the trend stopped. Now, it seems the versatile CIO and chief process officer are back (Computer Weekly, 16 January).

However, much must be done on both sides to ensure the new raft of CIOs do not fall into the same trap as their predecessors. Senior managers need to set aside their prejudice - and poor experience - and actively embrace the IT provider, while CIOs in turn must stop prevaricating, lose the obsession with technology-led investment and deliver an IT strategy that maps exactly to business needs.

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