systems involve collecting, organising, analysing,
sorting, retrieving, processing, transmitting,
receiving and displaying information. Within this
case study we are specifically interested in the
use of information processes for control and management.
Information systems are often used as control
systems, and information technology is used to
build those control systems.
here to find out what a control system is.
components of an information system include:
technologies (hardware and software)
we think of people being part of a system we should
remember they are not like other components because
they have beliefs, feelings, opinions and tend
not to think of themselves as part of a system
A United States soldier puts
a wristband with an identity microchip on
a refugee. Photo: Lynne Brakeman
Sometimes the data within an information system is about
people, this raises a number of social and ethical issues.
The issues are:
has ownership of the information?
the information accurate?
has access to it?
the person whom the information is about know of its
the person know about how it is being used and for
Information technologies have the capacity to improve
the efficiency, security and accuracy for many social
processes. They can greatly improve services and planning.
However they can be used to put people into situations
they would not have chosen to be in, or to distribute
information about them that is incorrect or they might
want kept private.
example of a control system that is unlikely to be disputed
is a hospital identification system using wrist or ankle
tags. The hospital uses this technology to identify
people and store information about them reducing the
risk of inappropriate medical procedures.
more contentious example is an individuals credit rating.
When someone applies for a loan with a lending body
they agree to have their credit rating checked. The
credit rating is based on information stored in a database.
The information is collated from a variety of organisations.
Someone's credit rating may be poor if they have an
outstanding debt, such as an unpaid bill. But what happens
when the data provided is incorrect? The impact can
be the loan is refused and the process of rectifying
the situation very complex.
Identify other examples where people are the information
in a system. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages
of each for the consumer.