digieI 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.

Martin Paredes

Martín Paredes is a Mexican immigrant who built his business on the U.S.-Mexican border. As an immigrant, Martín brings the perspective of someone who sees México as a native through the experience...

8 replies on “More City Incompetence – Digie”

  1. The Dirty Hands are the ones that implemented this nonsense.

    What is amazing is they actually believe that having a flat screen on display is going to lure tourists hundreds of miles. This and the trolley system, how much dumber can city Comedy Central become? The plan to lure people from miles around to El Paso by building a baseball stadium is a failure. They even give tickes away to fill the bleachers and that still doesn’t work. The HOT fee is a failure as is the number of flights. Less flights, no problem just build a bigger rental car area at the airport. Maybe Chevy Chase will do a comedy film about traveling to El Pasi.

    Who in the heck is steering this ship? Perhaps the next project can be a replica of the Titanic with a real berg ! Sounds stupid having a berg in the desert, but I’m sure with the correct bs, city comedy central will float (no pun intended) a bond to pay for it. What IS sinking is the city.

    Why bother to fix the streets, we can just sell the buses and use stagecoaches, the streets are stagecoach ready. That will rid us of the smog because the Mexican smog knows to not cross the border. We can recycle the horse manure along with city Comedy Central decisions.

    I am proud as can be to be Hispanic, but even I question the wisdom of having a Hispanic center downtown. It would more sense, not cents, to build a multi-cultural center. That would showcase the city. As good as we are, we didn’t build the city by ourselves. Who were the other contributors? Chinese-Mexican, German-Mexican, Arab-Mexican, Irish-Mexican, Black-Mexican, etc. That’s the only way it would be a Hispanic cultural center.

    It will interesting to see how the Flat Screeners will wash their hands. Remember it’s too expensive to put in a toilet and cost for maintenance. Hhhhmm, water, sinks, soap, paper towels.

    Warning, don’t ever go to a shooting range with city Comedy Central members. They’re known to constantly shoot themselves in the foot.

  2. For someone that complains about the media you rely on ONE report from an incompetent reporter from KVIA to make your case. Maria Garcia did a hack job on this and you fell for it. How about doing some real reporting and finding out what the real deal is?

  3. That thing is a waste of money. 3.6 mil over 20 years comes out to over 5 mil. will this thing be cool in ten years….it’s not even cool now?

  4. Actually, the report wasn’t a hack job, it did a great job at trying to educate people on how to use the wall. People have been using their whole hand to try and access the different features, and Maria’s report outlined how you use the wall the same way you would an iPhone – with your fingertips. She also explained that the City cleans the wall every day, and that people should try to make sure that their hands are clean when they use the wall. Why is this being spun as ‘bad technology’, and why shouldn’t people be expected to have clean hands when they use the wall? Is it too much to ask that your hands not be grubby when you use the wall? Do you smear your gross hands all over other things you come into contact with during the day? Seriously, you are arguing that clean hands are a deal breaker?

    The technology is fine, it’s the people using it who need to be addressed. Any digital technology will be needed to be treated a little carefully, and if there are a number of people on it, things will slow down, much as they do when any digital system has a lot of users on it. You are ridiculous.

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