Technology as a threat to public safety
From the start of the 20th century, all the way to the last quarter of the century public safety was simply concerned with five main things. Top of the list was a secure and reliable transport system. Second, on the list was well-trained security department; homeland security trained enough to ensure that the public was secure. The third thing was infrastructure; there was a lot of focus on ensuring that the buildings being put up are secure enough to have people living and working in them. The fourth thing was protection from the effects of natural disasters; there was a lot of focus in ensuring that local, state and the national government was prepared well enough to deal with natural disasters and their effects (Hofmann, Burke, & Zohar, 2017).
Towards the end of the 20th century a lot of attention started being directed to terrorism; countering terrorism became one of the top agendas when it came to public safety. The beginning of the 21st century introduced not only the US but the world in general to a new public safety concern, technology, begging the question; is technology the biggest public safety concern in the nation? If it is, are there enough measures and policies to deal with technology as a public safety concern?
There are many supporting reasons as to why technology might be considered a big threat to public safety. All the reason support that technology malfunction and system glitches are the reasons as to why technology is the next biggest issue in public safety assuming it is not already the biggest issue.
Malfunction in the airplane industry
So far this year, the world has seen a single malfunction in the use of technology that has led to mass deaths. In March 2019, an aircraft crashed in Ethiopia, one of the countries in East Africa. All the occupants of the plane died in the crash; a total of one hundred and fifty-seven people died in the crash. The preliminary investigation as to the cause of the crash highlighted that a system glitch caused the plane to crash. The Ethiopian plane had a manoeuvring characteristics augmentation system and it is believed that it is a glitch in the system that led to the crash that cost so many people their lives (Wojcik, 2019).
The airplane industry is one of the industries that have fully adopted technology in all their activities. Due to the sensitive nature of the industry, the industry has incorporated many security features in its operations. Despite the many security features incorporated in airplane technology, the security features seem incapable of 100% guaranteed security to passengers. The Ethiopian airline crash is an example of how public safety is at risk due to the use of technology.
System glitches in the motor vehicle industry
Not so far away from home in March 2018, an Uber autonomous vehicle killed a pedestrian who was pushing her bicycle in Arizona. The incident was the first recorded death due to driverless driven vehicle. A preliminary investigation into the accident indicated that the primary cause of the accident was due to an override of the vehicle’s sensors. The giant taxi hailing company is claimed to have reduced the responsiveness of false positive reporting in order to have smooth rides for their customers (Laugier, 2018). Due to the reduced responsiveness, the car’s software detected the pedestrian but since there was an override of the system, the passenger was categorized as a false positive. The false categorization led to the death of the passenger.
Driverless car or self-driven cars seem to be the vehicles of the future and by the simple fact that such a car has caused a fatal accident before such vehicles are officially released to the public leads to the growing concern whether public safety will be guaranteed. The vehicles are said to rely on software to operate rather than human intervention and it is for that reason that they are susceptible to software bugs and hacks. The fact that the vehicles will be used in roads that are full of people creates a public safety concern. It leads to the question; is public safety guaranteed with the use of self-driven vehicles.
On matters concerning vehicles, between 2009 and 2011, Toyota recalled over one million vehicles that it had in the US. The two-vehicle models that were recalled were the Toyota Corolla and Toyota Camry models (Austen-Smith et al., 2017). There were two reasons that necessitated that Toyota has a recall of the models. All the reasons were due to an intended acceleration of the vehicles. The first reason was that there was a floor mat incursion which caused the acceleration pedal to get stuck on acceleration. The second reason was that there was a mechanical sticking of the acceleration pedal.
The second reason for the recall of the above-mentioned models indicates that technology in the field of automobile creation and development needed to be more secure. Unfortunately, Toyota is not the only automobile company that has had some of its vehicle models recalled due to technology or software glitches. For example, Mercedes Benz C-class, the BMW ¾ series and Chevrolet Tahoe are all examples of automobiles that have been recalled due to faultiness in their software or mechanics (Eilert et al., 2017). Some of the vehicle mentioned above had intended acceleration as well as faulty braking systems which are all crucial in securing the safety of passengers as well as bystanders.
The motor vehicle industry is another example of an industry that has almost if not fully adopted technology. Most vehicles rely on complex mechanical and technical systems to function. Just as with all forms of technology, automobile technology does not 100% guarantee security to the users as well as bystanders. The automobile industry is an example of an industry if not carefully regulated can pose a threat to public safety.
Technology is meant to improve how human beings live. Technology is meant to make work easier; it is meant to increase production, improve accuracy and speed up activities amongst other things. Unfortunately, technology seems to be doing more than that. It seems to be exposing the general public to unnecessary risks while in the process of achieving what it was intended for. Malfunctioning technology, faulty systems, system glitches seem to expose the public to public safety concerns. There is a need to carry out a study to establish how risky technology is and how technology can be regulated or controlled with the aim of guaranteeing public safety.
Teachers Comments about this paper:
It seems that you have changed your topic. This is OK but I think that the two questions that you pose may be so broad that when you build your research program it will be much larger than the scope needed in this class. Feel free to further refine your question as you begin to prepare your research program description.
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Eilert, M., Jayachandran, S., Kalaignanam, K., & Swartz, T. A. (2017). Does it pay to recall your product early? An empirical investigation in the automobile industry. Journal of Marketing, 81(3), 111-129.
Hofmann, D. A., Burke, M. J., & Zohar, D. (2017). 100 years of occupational safety research: From basic protections and work analysis to a multilevel view of workplace safety and risk. Journal of applied psychology, 102(3), 375.
Laugier, C. (2018, December). Dynamic Scene Understanding and Upcoming Collision Prediction to improve Autonomous Driving Safety: A Bayesian Approach.
Wojcik, J. (2019). Outsourcing air safety. Guardian (Sydney), (1861), 9.