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London Ambulance Service Software Failure

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London Ambulance Service Software Failure
The London Ambulance Service (LAS) responds between 2000 and 2500 calls per day with a fleet of 750 vehicles, in less than three minutes. Their system was originally manually operated where details of an incident call taken by a control assistant is used to ascertain the location of an incident scene through the use of a map book. This information is then passed to a dispatch team who direct the appropriate ambulance to the incident scene through a radio call.
Due to the short comings of this manual system, the LAS thought to computerize its dispatch system in 1987. The first attempt was started in the 1980’s, abandoned in 1990 and failed after spending £7.5 million.

The second attempt by LAS was signed in May 1991. On the morning of Monday 26th October 1992 the LAS CAD system went live for the first time. Unfortunately there were 81 known bugs in the system at that time and it had been 10 months since the control room staff were first trained to use the software. The system had 4 primary flaws when it went live; it did not function well. Furthermore, the user interface had black spots which meant that the user could not see all the information on screen and finally, additionally, the system stored incident information even after it was not needed, which caused the system to fill up memory and fail.

The first of these problems began to show during the morning rush of calls; there were a number of duplicate calls which led to a number of distraught callers being kept waiting in the call-queuing system for up to 30 minutes.
The system created further delays when dispatching ambulances. It failed to recognize certain roads and routes, the drivers had to revert back to using maps to navigate their way or call the ambulance dispatch. These system errors led to the late arrival of ambulances, or two ambulances turning up...

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