In episode 44 of the Data Modernization Minute, Wayne Sadin continues the conversation on IT reassurances that should scare CEOs and board members. This time, Wayne focuses on the crashing of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) system, NOTAM, as well as NAV CANADA.
00:36 — NOTAM is a system the FAA uses to notify airports and air crews about non-emergency situations. Recently, the system crashed and resulted in hour-long stoppages on the ground. The FAA announced that some of its contractors changed the data in its database.
01:15 — Wayne notes how the response to this incident is similar to a “blame the intern” strategy. Wayne argues that humans should not be able to change a critical database in a production system. If databases are being changed for any reason, there’d better be approval from someone “who knows what they’re doing.”
02:50 — People are not to blame but rather, the executive management of technology, since they did not build the proper checks and balances, processes, and tools to ensure this cannot happen.
03:05 — At the same time the FAA was failing, so was NAV CANADA, the Canadian equivalent of the FAA, which suffered a similar “meltdown” to the FAA. NAV CANADA claimed that the failure was due to an isolated hardware problem that it shortly fixed.
03:26 — Wayne does not find these responses to be reassuring. Major systems that run air traffic control for the entire country cannot be dismissed as having an “isolated incident” that took down an entire system — companies cannot run this way in the modern world. A solution that Wayne suggests is using multiple systems, rather than a single one, in case a part of the system goes down.
04:48 — There must be industrial-scale technology to ensure that operators are “comfortable that they are doing it right.” Incidents that occurred with the FAA and NAV CANADA raise IT oversight questions, highlight issues of technical debt, and suggest that organizations need to evaluate their “IT hygiene.”
Looking for more insights into all things data? Subscribe to the Data Modernization channel: