Okay, this is via Fark, which is sort of like blogging with your pants around your ankles, but it illustrates a point I’ve been wanting to make for a long time.
Seems that the death count in New Orleans is way, way up. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 11,453 people have died in the Big Easy so far this year. That’s nearly 15 times the number for the same period last year. But there’s no other evidence of an epidemic or a surge in violent crime, or anything of that sort.
So what’s going on? Turns out the numbers are correct, but the dates they were reported were skewed. The Louisiana State Office of Public Health has had a statewide backlog in processing death certificates for reporting to the CDC. As of the beginning of this year, the Office put their energy into clearing that backlog. In other words, some significant portion of that 11,453 deaths happened earlier–last year or possibly earlier. The backlog condition has existed “for years”. The Office’s commitment to clear the decks by the end of the year will cause similar leaps in death rates in other LA cities in the coming months.
Here’s the point I want to make. This is the kind of thing that happens in the analog, meat-space workplace where procedures are held over from decades past. Proper automation and data integration eliminates all of this. This is a sort of funny, trivia incident, but it’s a great example of the sort of outdated work practices and procedures our governments — and, surprisingly, many of our businesses — are working under.