Tuesday, 11 August 2009

TDCIT and a few minor political spats on the blogs.

Cllr Clive Heart and Cllr Simon Moores have been making their views felt here http://thanetonline.blogspot.com/2009/08/labour-shadow-team-comments-questions.html and here http://birchington.blogspot.com/2009/08/true-cost-of-it.html#comments about the cost of council IT.

All a bit party political, which from the point of view of the ordinary floating voter like myself it is a bit hard to grasp.

It usually boils down to all of Thanet’s problems are blamed on the local Tory administration by the Labour lot and the national Labour administration by the Tory lot.

When it comes to IT I think between them successive local and national administrations have stitched together so many rules and regulations as to make use of the internet as a means of communicating information to us, the local electorate, well nigh impossible.

They have also made it almost impossible to use recent assets that are available free to both business and private users.

As a Ramsgate shopkeeper the internet is petty much the only way I can access the council, when they are open so am I and their office in Ramsgate only allows me telephone access to officers that I could more easily phone from home.

This means that over the last few years I have used the council’s website and email server as a primary means of trying to find out what they are up to, frankly the experience hasn’t been a good one. If they had been a business I was trying to use, once I had discovered just how dreadful their IT was, I would have just used one of their competitors.

I suppose it was about 1998 that the minimum IT skills for anyone in my business moved from being able to send an email to being able to publish text and images to the internet.

It seems to have been at about this time that council officers outgoing internet activities were restricted to sending emails.

Delving the TDC website this morning one doesn’t start with a good impression, the search box, that doesn’t work properly, doesn’t display as it should in IE8 but floats on top of the council’s logo.

The youf of today had asked me about the night bus recently, I noticed an article about this on the TDC homepage. The article says the bus runs from 11pm to 3am on Friday and Saturday nights. The youf’s question being the latest one could get from Margate to Ramsgate, for a couple of quid, post party.

I clicked on the article to find out more about the night bus scheme, the link in it which takes you to a page on the TDC website that shows the timetable from 11 pm to midnight, not to 3 am as expected however there is a link there to the bus operators site for more info however if the info is there it certainly eluded me.

This is just an example of what I mean it equates to going onto my website clicking on a buy it now button and finding nowhere to pay.

I put this sort of thing down to the council officer that wrote the article not being able to post it directly, instead it goes of to the TDCIT department, gets posted with missing information, no one checks it as no one in the IT department would know what was wrong with it anyway.

Another example is that here we are with two major events this week Ramsgate week and Broadstairs Folk Week, information that is well hidden on the TDC website instead of splashed all over their homepage as one would expect.

At some point in the last ten years we passed, probably without knowing it, the point where the office worker that couldn’t use the internet reasonably well became unemployable.

In commerce and industry the goal posts are moving all the time, I speak from the relatively dated world of secondhand bookselling, in the shop this morning, the shops email accounts have been checked for spam, customers emails have been answered, Ebay, Amazon and ABE orders have been processed as have those from our own website.

Customers using the internet to buy books have used, credit cards, paypal, ABE, cheques and Amazon to pay us, all of this has been checked and the book orders packed for posting.

A new local title has been added to our website and linked up to a paypal “buy it now button” the fact of the matter is that were we not internet savvy the bookshop would have gone bust years ago.

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