Computer Weekly readers have their say
On the road to state blackmail with ID cards?
Ever since the home secretary started to voice a case for ID cards in the UK, I have been against them. But with so much spin going on, I am finding it hard to find a valid reason why.
The technology, unreliable as it is, can only get better. The potential high cost is just a smoke screen to get us talking about money instead of the moral implications of denying UK citizens the right to just be.
And that 1984-esque saying, "If you have nothing to hide then you have nothing to worry about," is hard to find a valid comeback to. So, after great consideration, I have come up with two reasons why I do not like the idea.
First, to paraphrase Murphy's Law, if you have a set-up where there is even the slightest possibility of abuse, then abuse will more than likely occur.
This principle has been demonstrated recently with The Sun's claims that it managed to gain confidential customer information from an Indian call centre, including bank details.
Second, there is the possibility that in the future DNA information will form part of the card. We could end up with the government targeting specific individuals with surveillance as they fall into a particular group of people sharing similar genetic traits.
Now I for one feel slightly apprehensive about this idea, which is within the capabilities of modern science. I would not submit my personal copyrighted bio-information willingly to the government. What would they have to resort to then? Petty blackmail, prison sentences, Gestapo tactics? I can just imagine it, "If you don't get a card then you do not have an automatic right to NHS treatment."
It does not sound like a very good idea to me.
Robert Collinson, Humber Sea Terminal
Police want nationwide intelligence system
Your news item "Police report slams UK police forces' IT as dysfunctional and poor value" (Computer Weekly, 28 June) painted too bleak and pessimistic a view of the state of police IT in the UK.
Over the past few years it has been very encouraging to see a lot more understanding in the police industry about information sharing, and the majority of police are in agreement that a national intelligence system is a good idea.
But with 43 police forces all having set their own IT agendas, we have ended up with a chaotic mix of disparate systems, although everyone seems in agreement that a standard system is needed. There are already many different local and regional initiatives ongoing within UK law enforcement to find the best way to do this.
The technology is available to create one national information repository and by using a web-based search interface officers could search any police force, third party or partner system with ease.
We must ensure we learn from systems already in use and not reinvent the wheel. There are many examples of information sharing systems both in the UK and on an international level, including the British Transport Police and New Jersey State Police in the US.
Agreeing the need for a national system is a major step forward. The next challenge is to agree how that system should be implemented.
David Carrick, managing director, Memex Technology
Outsourcing relies on good supplier relations
I read with interest your article on outsourcing based on research by Harvey Nash (Computer Weekly, 28 June) and was saddened to hear that CIOs who have had a disappointing outsourcing experience are withdrawing from the outsourcing arena.
It is unfortunate, given the maturity of the IT outsourcing market, that these situations can still occur.
From my experience, many organisations fall at the first hurdle because they do not agree the outsourcing priorities at the outset and they do not put enough emphasis on the relationship between the internal team and the supplier.
Chemistry and personal interaction between these two teams is a key priority and I believe relationship management should be built into the service agreement.
In addition, getting the contract right is an absolutely critical element to the success or failure of an outsourcing project. All too often companies are sleepwalking into trouble because they assume the supplier is overseeing the delivery of the whole IT project.
Although this may be true in principle, we must remember that the supplier's project manager will always have a different set of priorities to the customer. By definition, they will always be looking after the supplier's interests first.
In essence, successful outsourcing is about three things: people, processes and organisation, in that order.
David Craig, managing director, DAV Management
Transparency is key to trustworthy SLAs
In my view, the most compelling point to come from The Harvey Nash CIO Market Survey 2005/6 (Computer Weekly, 28 June) was the fact that many CIOs said that, in retrospect, they would rather have spent more time ensuring that the service level agreement with their suppliers was "foolproof".
This is the root cause of all tensions in outsourcing relationships. Why? Lack of transparency can result in situations where some service providers doctor outsourcing service level agreements, "oversell" an outsourcing agreement and can simply bumble through without fear of retribution.
Increased transparency would allow both parties to structure an open, clear and trustworthy outsourcing agreement.
Until recently, this was a very difficult thing to ensure but with the plethora of business service management solutions available, transparency has become increasingly easy and can open the door to industry best practice.
Sean Larner, managing director, Managed Objects