Everyday Computing, Features

Forced Innovation

By Dr. Lyndell St. Ville- ICT Consultant

IN August 2015, a dramatic change to Section 85 of the Motor Vehicles and Road Traffic Act was announced, mandating that all motorists carry a valid driving licence, to be produced immediately when stopped by police. Failure to do so, the penalty could be a fine of up to one thousand dollars. Fast forward to 2017, and we should expect that everything needed to support that change in policy would be well-established. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

While recently attempting to renew my driving licence, I was told of a backlog in the printing and issuing of these documents. Instead, I was issued with a receipt to indicate that I was waiting on the production of my driving licence. For everyone in that situation, this backlog has immediate implications, since we would be in breach of the Road Traffic Act, and not through our own fault.

With access to the appropriate databases, the power of ICT gives the police the ability to query — and validate — a receipt number issued by the Ministry of Infrastructure. If our traffic department was sufficiently ICT-enabled, there would be no problem validating a receipt produced by a motorist and no need to impose a hefty fine.

It is an embarrassing oversight that the printing of licences, critical to supporting the Road Traffic Act, could be allowed to fail in this way and undermine the very law! Despite the mismanagement and lack of coordination, there is a silver lining. This situation proves that we can cope without immediately producing a valid licence as stated in the Act because we can use the power of ICT to upgrade the working of the Traffic Department.

But why stop there? If we overlook the inconvenience of not carrying a government-issued photo ID, such as a driving licence, we can recognize that we are making strides in moving toward a paper-light, low-carbon and streamlined way of working. This is the essence of innovation and e-government and we need more of that!

At some point — hopefully soon — the associated costs of reprinting these licences on a supposedly triennial basis may lead to further changes, such as allowing licences to remain valid for decades instead of a measly three years. That change could affordably amortize the costs of production, reduce the burden and annoyance factor and strengthen conformance with our laws!

We could equally apply innovation to other problems, such as:
*) Promoting business by ending the Kafkaesque reservation of available parking space for buses during non-peak hours;
*) Converting vacant lots into green and open spaces to beautify the city and deny vermin a safe haven.

The perennial problem? We seem to wait until presented with a crisis or dilemma before springing into accidentally innovative action. We should know that forced action under crisis conditions do not typically translate into lasting improvements. When the crisis ends, we may revert to the old ways of working and thinking. We can do much better.

To share your views, contact the author at: www.datashore.net or via The VOICE.

About the Author
Dr. Lyndell St. Ville is an ICT Consultant based in Saint Lucia. His expertise includes systems analysis, design, and security strengthening.

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