The last time we checked in on Detroit’s computer system, we were snorting at the demand for $800k in Bitcoin by some hackish types who’d hoisted a city database; Detroit clearly didn’t have $800k to spare, in Bitcoin or any other currency you can name, but they didn’t need the database anyway, so they blithely blew off the extortionists.
This welcome bit of redundancy notwithstanding, we can’t really say that Detroit’s in good shape, computing-wise. Chief Information Officer Beth Niblock certainly won’t:
More than 80 percent of the city’s 5,500 computers are more than five years old, and 85 percent are equipped with Windows XP, an operating system that “by virtue of its age, is far from top of the line,” she wrote. Microsoft doesn’t even support XP anymore, and the city has been using a version of Microsoft Office that’s a decade old.
On top of that, the city has “serious” problems with the “resilience of its network,” she wrote, saying Detroit’s deficient network connections don’t allow employees to complete basic daily functions, such as accessing email. Employees can’t sync daily calendars to their smartphones.
I’m guessing it’s Office 2003 deployed to those Detroit computers, and support was pulled for that version about the same time support was pulled for XP.
Still, this isn’t the worst tech failure in Hockeytown, not by a long shot:
Chuck Moore, a consultant for the city, described one fire station’s Rube Goldberg machine in September during testimony in Detroit’s bankruptcy trial: When an emergency alert comes in, a fax machine is triggered. This shoots out a piece of paper, which knocks over a soda can full of change, notifying those at the station of the situation. At another station, a fax comes in and bumps a door hinge, which pulls a wire and rings a doorbell.
On the upside, they’re at least getting some use out of those fax machines, which are probably older than Windows XP.
(Via Hit Coffee.)