THE SAFETY-CRITICAL SYSTEMS CLUB, 55th Seminar:
Safety Impact of Pervasive IT Systems
learning from the world's largest IT projectTuesday 4 December, 2007 - Hesperia London Victoria Hotel, London, UK
IT systems safety issues most obviously arise when a computer system failure leads to a physical accident of some sort, resulting in injury or loss of life, or (much to be preferred) when computers are used to prevent or ameliorate such accidents. But now that computers are being used to enable vast networks of inter-related and mutually dependent administrative and infrastructure systems, it is becoming increasingly clear that systems safety issues exist - and must be managed - in this domain also.
The largest civil IT project in the world is the NHS National Programme for IT (NPfIT); it is a highly complex undertaking, with clear potential implications for patient safety. The issues are far from straightforward: the introduction of IT should, in many areas, reduce the potential for patients' records (etc) to be missing or erroneous; but if there are problems of this sort, the use of IT could lead to their proliferation. While some are concerned about the pace and scale of the introduction of IT into the NHS, others are equally concerned that any delay to NPfIT would itself put patients' safety at risk.
By focusing on NPfIT, this meeting aims to drew out lessons that apply much more widely, to other such pervasive projects. We examined how the participants in NPfIT have identified and managed the safety issues inherent to the programme; discussed how they dealt with the tension between using IT to improve safety and the additional safety problems that technology use brings with it; and debated guiding principles that should underlie such undertakings.
Download a copy of the flyer from here.
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