I cannot argue that I am surprised because it has been my experience that anything put out by city council demonstrates incompetence at its best. On February 9, 2015, I shared with you how the city’s information technology department took the process of upgrading its website and turned it into a complete mess. It hasn’t even been a month and now and we get to witness the latest example of city incompetence. This time it is the Digital Gateway in El Paso, or Digie, the much-touted digital wall at the El Paso Museum of History.
As is typical with the El Paso politicians their attempt to make El Paso competitive with other cities revolves around the notion of proclaiming El Paso is first in this or that. Never mind that being first means throwing money at unproven technology basically making El Paso the guinea pigs for the other cities to implement the technology cheaper and better.
It goes back to the notion that if you put enough lipstick on a pig it will magically become kissable. Unfortunately, for the El Paso taxpayers throwing money at projects to make the city feel better only reinforces the incompetence of the El Paso leadership.
Maria Garcia at KVIA reported yesterday that the recently opened $3.6 million digital wall has some problems. All new projects, especially technology-based ones, have problems on the onset. Usually competent individuals respond to the problems by assessing the issues and implementing solutions.
Not El Paso.
According to Garcia’s report, the problem lies in that the fingerprints left on its surface impedes the proper functioning of the digital wall. Instead of asking why fingerprints would be such a problem, the wall’s curator told KVIA “it is important for users to wash their hands before touching the screen,” obviously looking for a way out of having to explain that the problem lies in the technology.
Let that sink in for a moment. It is the technology that is the problem but city staff will blame “dirty fingers” as the culprit.
The digital wall is supposed to be designed to be touched and react to the touch by presenting information. Much like the touch-screen ATM you use regularly or the electronic kiosks popping up in fast-food chains across the country.
How many of those require you to wash your hands before using them?
As a matter of a fact, how many of your children use an iPad, smartphone or tablet for school on a daily basis. I am sure you wash your hands before making a call with your smartphone each day.
The touch-technology is basically the same, except one is much larger than the other is.
The problem is that the city decided it wanted to be first and as such is trying out a system that has not been tested in a real-world environment. For the privilege of doing this the city spent $3.6 million of your tax dollars for a system that will probably require a “wipes” container for patrons to wipe their hands before touching the screens and a security officer standing guard enforcing the “wipe-your-hands” rule each time someone walks up to the city’s Digie.
If a $100 tablet can work with dirty hands then why can’t a $3.6 million feel-good wall? How many times have you had to clean your hands before using the touch-screen ATM? They are exposed to many different people on a daily basis and some or even exposed to outdoor weather, yet you don’t see the wipie patrol ready to make you clean your hands before allowing you to use the ATM.
There is more to this story and it has nothing to do with dirty-fingers and everything to do with city incompetence.