IT Development

When solutions fail: the problems of a bad software development

An official took advantage of the news of the disappearance of a young woman to promote a government app that works poorly.

Technology is to solve our problems, but only if it works well. This phrase is a truism. However, it still seems that both companies and governments do not have it entirely clear when developing technological solutions.

An investigator in Artificial Intelligence mentioned on one occasion that in Mexico, the system is a green dwarf that is hidden in computers and always falls. This jocular comment refers to an explanation that Mexican users commonly hear when requesting a service that requires an electronic machine or Internet connection: “the system went down.”

This excuse was the same used in the 1988 elections, when Carlos Salinas de Gortari, the candidate of the Party in power, went down in the vote count. Suddenly, a connection failure caused the results to stop showing. When the connection returned, Salinas de Gortari appeared leading the voting.

These types of failures were to be expected at a time when technology was barely being implemented. Even in more developed countries, technological shortcomings are frequent. When the Hubble telescope was launched into space in 1990, the researchers in charge of the project encountered several problems. The failures ranged from vibrations of its structure that affected the quality of the images, memory losses of the on-board computers, and a defect in the primary mirror that caused the telescope images to be blurred. These problems cost millions of dollars in repairs.

To err is a human characteristic, not of underdeveloped countries. However, both governments and companies must take quality seriously in the development of their technological applications and invest the resources necessary for them to function correctly. Only in this way can they offer products that offer trust among users and do not damage the image of the government.

Case study: #TeBuscamosKaren

On Tuesday, December 3, Karen Espíndola disappeared after sending a message to her mother, worried about the suspicious aspect of the taxi driver. This was the chronology of the facts:

Around 8:20 p.m., Laura Karen sent a message to her mother to warn that she would take a taxi.

At 8:58 p.m., Karen sent a second message saying that the unit driver looked suspicious and rude.

That was the last time the young woman had contact with her family before disappearing. His mother asked him to get out of the taxi and send his location, but Laura didn’t answer anymore.

From that moment, family and friends asked for help in social networks. Her brother, Daniel Espíndola, shared Laura’s conversation with her mother and a photo.

“Do not enter calls or whats. We only know that they turned the cell phone on and off. She was dressed as in this photo, with black leggings, measuring 1.65-1.70,” Daniel wrote.

On Twitter, the hashtag #TeBuscamosKaren became a trend. This broadcast caused an official to share the “My Taxi CDMX” tool, which includes a panic button to notify the authorities of a dangerous situation.

A modern solution for a growing problem in Mexico City. However, users report a problem: the app does not work as it should.

The complaints have not only been from users, but also from expert developers who pointed out several shortcomings of the application. One even simulated the app, showing that a better and open source could be made.

An app with poor performance not only offers a bad image of the government, which remains incompetent. It also endangers users who are considering it as a reliable option in emergencies.

A country with talent that is not being used

The problem is not a sign of incompetence on the part of Mexican programmers, nor for the lack of technological tools. Mexico is a country that is increasingly gaining confidence in the software development industry. Large and medium-sized software companies have decided to establish themselves in the country, partly because of their proximity to the United States both geographically and culturally. Although Mexico City is the most developed metropolis, other cities have gained prestige over time.

The problem is the talent that is not being used in the country. And this situation happens on several levels. In the area of ​​technology, the Mexican education system has had problems keeping up. In many cases, young people do not find space to develop within companies.

Mexico faces many problems. Technological innovation can contribute to solutions, as long as it is well done.

By Juan Paulo Pérez-Tejada

I've studied Linguistics at the National School of Anthropology and History. I'm interested in NLP and Full-stack web development.

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