Global Dispatches

An international IT news digest

U.K. Mulls Unplugging Faulty EDS System

LONDON -- Continuous computer failures at the U.K.'s Child Support Agency have led the agency's chief to resign and prompted the government to consider scrapping a welfare case management and telephony system developed mostly by Electronic Data Systems Corp.

At a parliamentary committee hearing on Nov. 17, Doug Smith, chief executive of the Child Support Agency, said he's "seriously disappointed" that just 61,000 out of 478,000 single parents have received payments from the system and that $1.4 billion worth of support payments remain uncollected. Smith said he's resigning from his job.

Alan Johnson, secretary of the U.K. Department of Work and Pensions, which oversees the agency, said he's considering the "nuclear option" of pulling the plug on the system. Launched in March 2003, the system includes a Java-based application written by EDS and call center software created by BT Group PLC. The parliamentary committee issued a damning report about the system in July . During the hearing, Johnson read from what he said was an internal EDS memo that described the system as "badly designed, badly delivered, badly tested and badly implemented." A representative from EDS U.K. declined to comment or to confirm the legitimacy of the memo.

• Laura Rohde, IDG News Service

Start-up Claims Low-Cost RFID Chip

AUCKLAND, New Zealand -- A start-up vendor called Sandtracker claims to be on the verge of cracking the 5-cent cost barrier for radio frequency identification (RFID) tags. The Auckland-based company is producing a low-silicon chip that can be made for 6 cents and contains only a number identifying the goods that are tagged.

Sandtracker said the tags are being tested in several applications. A sports-event company is putting the cheap tags on the number bibs of runners to count how many cross the finish line during races. Another customer is using a special RFID assembly across the closure of crates and containers. Any tampering triggers an alarm, Sandtracker said.

Some versions of the tags don't conform to the emerging Electronic Product Code standard, but Sandtracker said it plans to work with the EPC standards body on the new chips.

• Stephen Bell, Computerworld New Zealand Online

Intel to Spend $40M On India Chip Center

BANGALORE, India -- Intel Corp. said on Nov. 19 that it will invest $40 million over the next two years at its 43-acre development center in Bangalore. That's on top of a similar investment in the past two years.

The new funding will be used to develop next-generation Centrino chip sets, laptop motherboards and Windows-based graphics drivers. The center will also develop enterprise-class microprocessors, including work on all of Intel's chips that support very large-scale integration technology.

• John Ribeiro, IDG News Service

Compiled by Mitch Betts.

Briefly Noted

  • BAA PLC, a London-based airport operator, plans to use enterprise service bus (ESB) technology developed by Sonic Software Corp. in Bedford, Mass., to integrate flight, baggage and passenger information systems at Heathrow Airport's Terminal 5, which is under construction. BAA also tapped Sonic ESB to support its overall service-oriented architecture.
  • NetSuite Inc., a hosted applications vendor in San Mateo, Calif., announced a move into the Canadian market as it opened a 40,000-square-foot facility in Mississauga, Ontario. NetSuite said its hosted CRM, ERP and e-commerce applications have been adapted for the Canadian market's business terminology and accounting standards.
  • The International Moscow Bank in Russia has selected Flexcube banking software from I-flex Solutions Ltd. in Mumbai, India, as part of a technology modernization drive.

Copyright © 2004 IDG Communications, Inc.

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