The global campaign for ICT professionalism as the ‘gold standard’ of practice

As the world relies more and more on technology everyday in our lives, business and security the question of trust is growing in importance.  IFIP IP3 is helping to put this critical question on the international agenda.

Established in 2006 by the International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP), the International Professional Practice Partnership (IP3) is working to form a partnership amongst the stakeholders in the ICT eco-system to develop the global standard in ICT practice and professionalism.

What’s at stake?

Unfortunately, there is no shortage of examples of ICT failures, with tragic and serious consequences. In 1994, for example, a Chinook helicopter ZD576 crashed on the Mull of Kintyre killing 29 people. Lords Committee reported: The Lords committee’s verdict. “We have considered the justification for the air marshals’ finding of negligence against the pilots of ZD576 against the applicable standard of proof, which required ‘absolutely no doubt whatsoever’.

In the light of all evidence before us and having regard to that standard, we unanimously conclude that the reviewing officers were not justified in finding that negligence on the part of the pilots caused the aircraft to crash.” Rather the blame lay at the software problems that were known to exist. “It is clear that at the time of the crash there were still unresolved problems in relation to the Fadec system of Chinook MK2s.”

Also in 1994 an airplane crashed at Nagoya airport with 264 fatalities and 7 injuries. China Airlines had completed the modifications to the Flight Control Computers to introduce a function that allowed disengaging the autopilot during any flight phase which was identified as a significant factor in the fatal crash.

In 2000, at the National Cancer Institute at Panama improper miscalculation of dosage of radiation for patients undergoing radiation therapy led to the death of 21 patients and another 20 who were severely adversely affected. The software written by Multidata Systems International had a loophole where doctors could make minor modifications to input values assuming the software could work ideally even under those modifications. What they didn’t realise is that the software gave different answers depending on certain parameters leading to double the recommended dose of radiation. Further, there was also a human aspect of error where the physicians who were required to manually double check the software’s calculations failed to do so leading to them being indicted for murder.

Why IP3?

As is obvious the stakes are incredibly high now that ICT underpins nearly all aspects of our lives. According to Brenda Aynsley, IP3 chair dangers arise out of careless or thoughtless and unprofessional behaviour.

“We need to mitigate risk to life, economic loss at individual, corporate and national levels. It is a matter of enshrining trust in the ICT profession, a profession which underpins so much of everyday life from social media and communications to medicine and education, food technology and research,” she said.

IP3’s mission includes promoting professionalism in ICT by helping IFIP member societies to create and administer professional certification schemes. Through this process, the aim is to give the ICT profession the kind of recognition and prestige other professions like law, accountancy and medicine enjoy.

“Historically one of the consequences of business disasters is a determination to improve professional standards in the industries responsible. IP3 is a global initiative to be pro-active in this regard working with industry, governments and professional societies around the world,” Aynsley said.

“The innate professionalism of individuals in itself is not enough today; organisations and governments need to know that individuals’ professionalism has been certified to globally recognised standards.

“ICT is one of a handful of professions where best practices and standards are not recognised or employed consistently across the globe. ICT needs common standards of practice, knowledge and ethical boundaries.”

In September 2008, the ACS became the first professional body to be accredited with its Certified Professional (CP) scheme.  This accredited scheme lays the foundation for Australian ICT professionals to qualify for the benefits of the Professional Standards Legislation limiting liability of Certified Computer Professionals in the case of suit.  This is a valuable business benefit to those practitioners operating their own SME and contractors.

Professional Society membership of IFIP and an ongoing commitment to the IP3 standard of professional practice is the first step towards attracting those benefits for the individual professional practitioners in each country.  More information is available at www.ipthree.org.

 

Brenda Aynsley.

Brenda is a Fellow of the ACS and an Honorary Life Member.  She was first elected chair of IFIP IP3 in 2011 and has served in that role since then.  In this capacity she has met with European Union and International Telecommunications Union leaders to influence their work in professionalism and in the e-skills and digital agenda.  Through its Global Industry Council it has sought to reflect industry’s concerns about ICT practice in its standard which IP3 maintains through its Standards and Accreditation Council.  A recent initiative in its earliest stage is the inauguration of the Global Governments Alliance later in 2013.

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