IT failures roundup: Airports; jail system; angry travellers

To describe more failures than one lone blogger could possibly investigate himself, here's a new type of post: the IT failures roundup. I'll periodically report on interesting failures using a brief, overview format.

Recent IT failures roundup

To describe more failures than one lone blogger could possibly investigate himself, here's a new type of post: the IT failures roundup. I'll periodically report on interesting failures using a brief, overview format.

JFK airport baggage handling system goes down. American Airlines scored unhappy customers when the baggage system in Terminal 8 failed, forcing the airline to sort luggage manually. Initial reports called the problem a "software glitch" in the conveyor system, which never sounded right to me. After several painful days, technicians finally located the problem: flaky network equipment. From Computerworld:

[T]he glitch was caused by a hardware issue involving the network between the computer software that controls the sorting function and the baggage conveyor belts. Wagner said the software was working, the conveyors were working, but some of the network hardware was failing.

Network equipment can be painful to troubleshoot, as the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) outpost at Los Angeles airport (LAX) discovered last year.

Airport luggage systems are complex beasts and tend to fail in an exceedingly public manner. London's Heathrow Airport faced a major baggage failure soon after opening its expensive new Terminal T5. Even supermodel, Naomi Campbell, was angry.

For lots more information on the JFK problems, click here.

Software problem unlocks jail doors. This one's a first for me: software problems caused cell doors to open unexpectedly in a Nebraska jail. From The Grand Island Independent:

[Hall County Corrections Director Fred Ruizsaid] some software programming was supposed to be done on a panic-button system for the jail's infirmary. It would allow a nurse, doctor or corrections officer to signal staff that help was needed in that part of the building.

Ruiz said that, instead of sending the panic-button signal to the right place, the signal was misrouted, which caused several exterior doors on the building to open and close. As a safeguard, there is another door people must pass through before they can go through any of the exterior doors. In a few cases, some of those doors leading to the exterior doors also opened.

The programming mishap also caused three cell doors to open, although all the cells were unoccupied.

Angry passengers crash computers. Literally. Finally for today, another airline-related computer incident. Reuters reports:

Scores of Chinese air passengers smashed computers and desks and clashed with police Tuesday after a night stranded at an airport without accommodation, state media said.

Obviously, these folks are not gonna take it anymore.

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Do you like this format for a periodic report on failures? Please let me know!

[Image via turboGADGETS.]

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