Thursday, December 08, 2016

This Day In Clarkland...What Did We Get For That $50,000,000 Lo-Fi Fo-Op?


Remember yesterday how we noted that the Clarklandian minister of rural something or other was getting ready to have local photo-op to unveil a $50,000,000 website that is barely functional.


That particular minister, whose name is Donna Barnett in case you missed it, got the proMedia coverage the Wizards were looking for.

From (as NVG noted)...

The Williams Lake Tribune!

People interested in land-based opportunities in B.C. will now have easy access to information and making applications thanks to a new website.

Minister of State for Rural Economic Development Donna Barnett was in Williams Lake Wednesday to officially launch the Natural Resources Sector Online Services portal...

Which, of course, led to a fit of ecstasy in at at least one local apparatchik:

...Jaymie Jones is a natural resource specialist in Williams Lake and said she was happy about the new website.

"As someone who is going to be using this tool with the public I am very excited," Jones said...

And, best of all, was the following comment from the "business transformation lead for the project":

..."And there's an interactive mapping tool," he (the business transformation lead for the project, Dean Hardman) said as he typed in a region on the screen and zoomed in...


An interactive mapping tool!!!

No mention, unfortunatel, of any of the Geocities circa1999-type stuff that Paul Ramsey mentioned in his actual, you know, real analysis of the thing.



In other photo-operativishness-type news, the Clarklandians have announced that they will essentially double the government ad-budget in the run up to the election, in part (and I kid you not) to "fight" the fentanyl crisis (via Rob Shaw in the VSun):

Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson, whose ministry is responsible for communications and advertising, said Wednesday government expects to spend $15 million by the end of the fiscal year, March 31, 2017. That’s up from $8.5 million in the provincial budget.

Wilkinson said one of main items is a public awareness campaign on the health emergency caused by a fentanyl overdose crisis...




Paul Ramsey said...

So, hey, I have to come to the defence of the interactive mapping tool, because, you know, that's what I do for the day job. Everybody loves an interactive mapping tool!! But, I ask you, try out the tool at the end of the link I just gave, which is built by a startup that has so far consumed under $10M in venture funding, and compare it to the BC government tool. It's not so much that their tool doesn't work: it does stuff, I imagine even does what it was spec'ed to do. It's just not worth the $50M that has been spent on the project. Of course, the web map tool isn't all they are supposed to deliver, but I can guarantee you that at the end, when you pile up all the stuff that's operational and look at it, you won't exclaim: "wow! all that for only $50M!!?!!"

Incidentally, since 2008 the "excited" Ms Jones has had access to a tool that functionally does exactly what the new NRS map tool does. It's called the ILRR, it cost $14M, and like the tool that's replacing it, it cost probably 10x as much as it should have, given the functionality it delivered in the end. (Yes, that's right, I worked on it. But that's how one learns.)

RossK said...

Thanks for the comparison of the two 'tools' Paul (and sorry to have appeared to diss the tool itself, it was just that the way the fine 'business transformation lead' said it, it made it seem like there weren't any interactive mapping ones before his was unveiled yesterday).

And thanks for filling us in on how Ms. Jones' fit of extreme happiness should have been going on for at least eight years now.

(re: those zoom-in-on-topography-type tools...We use them in my business too, most often when we go from the tissue level down to the subcellular level on the same image....Me, I'm waiting something that can chase this kind of thing in 4D....Of course theprocessing power and file storage required will be insane)


e.a.f. said...

just what we need in the middle of a fent crisis, more advertising. ought to work great. spend all the money on advertising but no money on more hospital beds for detox or shrinks to help people get through what drove them to drugs, no more money for decent places to live once people come out of rehab. advertising will do just nicely. this time though people are dying at such a rate the public may actually question why people keep dying if they're doing all that advertising. now that could be a fun event, the questions,

a $50M website what a waste of money. An article in the Vancouver Sun today discusses a group which feeds hungry kids in school and after school programs. They're fund raising for $10K and our premier blows $50M on a website? Is she out of her mind?

Paul Ramsey said...

e.a.f., the tale the top civil servants and the politicos at Treasury Board tell themselves is that these big initiatives will unlock so many efficiencies that they'll not only pay for themselves, but also free up resources for other things. Unfortunately all too often the rationales are paper thin. The Treasury Board politicos should be asking harder questions of these projects when they come across their desk, but I'm guessing that they are to some extent cowed by the IT folks. We have a way of making things simultaneously seem too complex to understand and too simple to gainsay.

R U smoking BC bud said...

When did Cristy and her Band of Bozo's legalize pot in this province. They must have because they are all stoned. Now I know where that smoke they are blowing up our asses is coming from. 50,000,000 dollars on a web site, I mean really. And people thought that 100,000,000 per fast ferry was a waste of money. What a joke, hey guys I have some ocean front property just east of Kelowna that I will sell you really cheap....

RossK said...


Is it just the cowing by the IT folks that swings the politicos?

I wonder, given how often pay-to-play comes to the fore in other spheres, if...

(and that 'pay' does not have to be 'direct' for it to be an effective lever at that level)


RossK said...


Are you suggestingthat global warming won't bring us new lakes?

OK real estate agents of a certain kind are going to shocked! Shocked I tell you!


Anonymous said...

pay to play -when BC uses software that no other province uses.
pay to play -when you are not allowed to modify software at work ,in house.?
outside party only.?

Paul Ramsey said...

RK, in a word, "no". While Deloitte appears to have recently stepped up its game in the palm greasing category, the grease largely post-dates some of their biggest wins in terms of getting capital spending approval for things like ICM (early 2000s) or NRS (2013/14). CGI, the other major integrator on NRS, has no contributions at all in the database.

In rough terms, the political-level failures are two-fold: from the start of the Liberal era, a big ideological commitment to outsourcing, which has hollowed out the technical capacity of the civil service; and, a lack of appropriate skepticism as decision makers when the civil service brings up these big projects for approval. The latter could be a result of the same "edifice complex" we see in the physical world (bridges! dams!) or it could be as I posit, a misplaced deference to those Smart Folks Who Understand Computers and Promise It Will Work Out Great.

So, mostly sins of omission (not saying "no" or "do we really need that?") rather than sins of commission (saying "yes" because of back scratching). I still owe you a post on the history of "transformation" projects.

RossK said...

Thanks Paul--

Great to hear about the devilish details; very much appreciated.

I would, however, still argue more generally that while the outsourcing may have started with an ideological push, the 'indirects' may have helped to keep the ball rolling...Wasn't there actually some evidence of that where smart meters were concerned wherein some decision makers involved in the deals recused themselves briefly when the decisions on said deals were being made?


RossK said...

...and am really looking forward to the transformation post...Might be a good New Year's resolutional post.