Photo: The Evil Stradcom Bus
I’m live-blogging this right from the site of one of those mobile LTO registration setups that on this fine Saturday morning is just so chock full of bugs that it isn’t even funny. “LTO e-Patrol” is the cutesy moniker they’ve given to this government agency’s outreach program that is supposed to make things easy for city residents.
They field a bus to subdivisions, housing projects, etc. on weekends and this allows you to renew drivers licenses and car registrations right on the spot. The bus is equipped with servers, laptops, digital photo processing, telecom equipment (I see a number of “wireless landlines” with this group) The “convenience” here is that you don’t need to skip work on a weekday to get this done at the chaotic LTO offices around town. And if you’re renewing your car registration they do emission testing as well.
It’s supposed to be an all-inclusive system, and the LTO has outsourced this to a tech company called Stradcom. The Stradcom system is supposed to be fully automated (or “computerized” as is the term we still use in the good ‘ol RP), from taking a picture (of the car? of the driver?), recording the emissions, and such. Then they forward you to the more plebeian LTO personnel with their manual typewriters and carbon paper forms.
Right now the system is down. There are about 50 people waiting in queue just waiting for the first step, which is emission testing. Stradcom can’t do the emission testing because “their server is down” whatever that means, and we can’t be processed. We’re waiting for their IT staff to come over with a fix, which will take about an hour for them to get here.
In the meantime, everyone is getting hot and bothered and cranky. I’ve managed to keep my cool because – well, I’m live blogging and distracted. The setup here is open from 8am to 12 noon. And it’s almost noon, which is when the heat is starting to get unbearable.
This is one of those instances where technology just gets in the way because there is no manual backup. In the old days, the less hi-tech emission testers were equipped with hand held battery-powered units that gave an LCD readout of your car’s emission results. They could write down the results on a form by hand or typed in on a manual typewriter.
What these STRADCOM folks could have done is have a manual backup to allow this emission testing pre-requisite to continue in the event their server craps out. Just a simple low tech plan B.
In the meantime, we wait. And the crowd is getting angry. There are a lot of trees around here, and I think that with enough rope we can have a proper lynching before lunchtime.