Flawed Data Integration

  • Comments posted to this topic are about the item Flawed Data Integration

  • There needs to be a fully closed loop on handoffs between systems. Someone should have been alerted that no one picked up the work order, and/or that an update indicating the job had been completed, related to to retrieving this woman from the plane within some reasonable amount of time after the plane reached the gate.


    Although off-topic, this is also relevant to the related issue of why flying as a wheelchair user is terrifying (especially if travelling alone):


    This is especially true for those who require a custom-fitted powered chair and can't use a generic loaner until a replacement is delivered potentially months after theirs is damaged or destroyed by the airline:


    I am lucky enough to have never needed an assistive device, but I am sensitive to the needs of those that do.

  • It was definitely challenging. Without my wife there to help or advocate, I think it would have been frustrating, challenging, maybe even  missing a few things. And I didn't need full assistance.

    I certainly appreciate how important it is to be sensitive and helpful to others. Most people were really good, but not everyone.

  • In your case, the receiving system (at the airport) should have had alerting set up that the needed task had not been assigned or completed. But it wouldn't be crazy to hope that there could be a two-way interface between the systems so the sending system (the airline?) would also have been able to alert on the lack of a status update from the airport.

    It is a good lesson to keep in mind for our own work. For example, just sticking something in a queue doesn't guarantee it ever gets picked up. There should always be a process that alerts on old entries.

    At an ecommerce company I used to work for, the order processing system would add a request to send UPS a notice that we had an outgoing package into a queue (a database table with an Order number and an internal box Id column, along with date/time columns for Created and Processed). Another process would pick it up from the queue, make the web service call to UPS, and update the row with the processed time. We sent thousands of packages per day. We had a third process that raised alerts if anything in that queue had been there too long and still had a NULL Processed value so someone would investigate the cause and fix it if possible (maybe the web service was down and all we could do was complain to UPS). We had a fourth process that alerted if any of the above processes went down. Take nothing for granted.

  • Perhaps I didn't make it clear, but the messaging was there, but not handled appropriately at the airports. My guess is staffing issues (what IAD noted), where they just don't have enough people to respond to the system. In AMS, there was one person with a tablet that had the names of all of us, just no people to handle things. I don't know if this was a systems failure or a human failure, but I suspect the latter.

    I don't know if they have alerts on things and ignored them, or they got alerts, but just didn't have human capacity. Both are possibilities, and both sucked for me (and others).

  • Related to the handicapped traveling, I can say that our experience, though not much with flying, has been pretty much the opposite.  My wife is a double below-knee amputee, and there are times that due to some other health issues she can't use her prosthetics.  We use a travel chair when going places, and I must say that our overwhelming experience has been that people will generally make lots of extra effort to help us.    And I can report that they are often those with 'different lifestyles' and appearances.  There is hope for the next generations yet!  We always appreciate their help and try to thank them profusely.

    Regarding the better data integration, I thnk we need to be careful what we ask for.  The obvious solution would probably be government intervention and we all know how well that works.  As one who has lots of experience in this area, I can understand that most people have little or no expeience dealing with this, so I can understand some problems.

    As one who has worked with data for decades, I would add that we need to put lots of effort into the data we provide to systems, ours and others, realizing it works both ways.  And maybe there is more we can do in terms of checking for ourselves instead of depending on data systems.  In lots of situations we do the 'call ahead' thing to make sure our needs are reeceived and understood, such as wheelchair access to restaurant tables, and other times asking for 'soft seating' since we're old and sore.  And we tip extra for good care.

    On the other hand, we usually try to not take too much advantage of the situations, realizing that we are responsible for ourselves and our needs, and are just thankful when others help. At our ages, we are blessed to just wake up again in the morning.

    Another thought on this, in the rare instances of our recent flights, we've found that you can normally ask the flight attendants to message ahead and have help at the arrival gates.   And if you ask for help, the airlines and airports will most likely have electric carts to transport you from gate to gate.

    • This reply was modified 2 weeks, 5 days ago by  skeleton567.


    One of the best days of my IT career was the day I told my boss if the problem was so simple he should go fix it himself.

  • Overall the experience was good. Coming home the DC and Denver airports and employees were top notch. Even in AMS, where they were short staffed, they gave my wife a wheelchair and let her push. IAH wouldn't let her push me from the gate to the plane, which was a somewhat painful limp with a cane.

    Where things fell down were with a few too many regulations and then staff not responding (or no staff). While gate agents and flight attendants did call and offer help, responses were poor a few times. glad I could at least hobble around.

    People generally were nice, and offered to carry something or give me a seat (on a ferry/train). I was pleased with society in general. I had to learn to suppress me " I can do it" more often than I liked, but I learned a few things about myself and the kindness of strangers.

    I don't know there are good solutions, or that more rules help. More, I want people to just think through where things could be different from others' points of view or where our systems might have issues if we don't account for potential issues.

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