Monthly Archives: June 2014

Citizen + Open Data = $55,000 savings

Big Data is not necessarily about crunching massive amounts of data – it’s about finding unrealized value in a data set. This might be done on huge sets of billions of records, using Map/Reduce running on thousands of servers. But it might also be done at a smaller scale by a concerned citizen.

More and more data is being made available by municipalities and countries. These are typical “big data” collections: Just a bunch of data of varying quality with very little associated metadata explaining what the data is about. And one professor in New York has shown what can be achieved with open data and careful analysis.

He discovered that just two fire hydrant generated $55,000 of parking tickets per year. Of course it is illegal to park in front of a fire hydrant, but a quick look at Google Streetview revealed that motorists were highly unlikely to notice these hydrants. After the professor’s analysis made it onto Reddit and then into the New York Post, the Department of Transportation changed the street marking to make it clear that these spaces were illegal. Consequently, New Yorkers are likely to save $55,000 a year (plus some frustration).

Let’s set more data free and see where it takes us.

Poor Usability Puts Dangerous Criminals on the Street

Good usability is often seen as optional – something we can include in a system if we have the time and the resources for it. But sometimes, bad usability can cause economic damage. A couple of years ago, here in Denmark, a large, well-respected organization had to write manual checks for months to avoid having their phones cut off. The reason: Their new ERP system was so hard to use that invoices were not getting entered or approved. Consequently, no money went out.

But the citizens of Dallas, Texas are about to experience that bad usability can actually be dangerous. Because of their new records management system, police officers are unable to complete the necessary paperwork in time. And of course the state cannot hold people incarcerated without the proper paperwork. So after three days, the judge has to release dangerous criminals back on the street, because charges have not been entered into the IT system.

Good usability is not optional.

Late to the game: SAP

Having working with Oracle Fusion Applications, I know what a modern, cutting-edge user experience for enterprise software looks like. Something like this:

fusion-applications-screenshots-3I’ve also sometimes been subjected to SAP. Suffice to say, it does not look like this.

But maybe they’re upping their game – according to job hunting site Glassdoor.com, SAP is looking for 58 User Experience engineers. A bit late to the game, given than Oracle is already shipping stuff like the above. But better late than never.