The London Ambulance Service Computer-Aided Despatch System

Topics: Ambulance, 1996, 1912 Pages: 37 (12590 words) Published: October 2, 2010
European Journal of Information Systems (2005) 14, 244–257 & 2005 Operational Research Society Ltd. All rights reserved 0960-085X/05 $30.00

The turnaround of the London Ambulance Service Computer-Aided Despatch system (LASCAD) Guy Fitzgerald1 and Nancy L. Russo2
Department of Information Systems and Computing, Brunel University, Uxbridge, Middlesex, U.K.; 2Department of Operations Management & Information Systems, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL, U.S.A. Correspondence: Guy Fitzgerald, Department of Information Systems and Computing, Brunel University, Uxbridge, Middlesex UB8 3PH, U.K. Tel: þ 44 1895 266018; Fax: þ 44 1895 251686; E-mail: 1

Abstract The implementation of the Computer-Aided Despatch system at the London Ambulance Service has been one of the most notorious cases of failure within the information systems (IS) literature. What is less well known is that there followed, some time later, a much more successful implementation, described as a turnaround. This paper, based on a case study approach, describes the context and detail of that implementation. A framework from the literature, used in an analysis of the initial failure, is used to analyse and compare the similarities and differences in the development of the two systems. The framework provides four interacting elements and relationships for analysis. These elements are Supporters, Project Organisation, Information System, and the Environment in which they operate. The turnaround system was found to address directly almost all the issues identified as problematic in the failure. These included the approach taken by management to understand the needs of users, including issues unrelated to the system itself, their involvement in the development process, an improvement in the availability of resources (brought about in some part because of the previous failure), the ability to follow a relaxed timeline driven by users’ acceptance levels, the preparation of infrastructure projects to develop confidence, participation and prototyping, thorough testing, phased and simple implementation, and trust building. Certain environmental factors could not be so directly addressed but nevertheless were overcome by attention to detail and internal needs. Conclusions indicate that the factors addressed are not new and are to be found in the success literature. What is unusual is that they were implemented in this case in such unlikely circumstances. European Journal of Information Systems (2005) 14, 244–257. doi:10.1057/palgrave.ejis.3000541 Keywords: London Ambulance Service; Computer-Aided Despatch; information system; implementation; systems; success factors; failure; case study

The London Ambulance Service (LAS) Computer-Aided Despatch (CAD) system (LASCAD) has become widely known as a prime example of an information systems (IS) failure (see, e.g., Beynon-Davies, 1995; Finkelstein & Dowell, 1996; Collins, 1997). The LASCAD ‘crash’ happened in 1992 hitting the newspaper headlines with suggestions that 20–30 people had died as a result, leading to the resignation of the Chief Executive (CE) (The Guardian, 1992; The Independent, 1992). Questions were asked in the Parliament and a Public Inquiry instigated. This was followed by intense media interest and further government enquiries. Subsequently, however,

Received: 4 May 2004 Revised: 25 October 2004 2nd Revision: 25 November 2004 Accepted: 19 July 2005

Turnaround of the LASCAD

Guy Fitzgerald and Nancy L. Russo


the LAS disaster and its aftermath faded from prominence with little media coverage and few front-page stories. In 1996, a new LAS CAD system was implemented, with relatively little fanfare, which was very successful, enabling LAS to improve its performance substantially and to win the BCS (British Computer Society) award for Excellence in IS Management in 1997. Given the magnitude of the failure of the...

References: AL-MASHARI M and AL-MUDIMIGH A (2003) ERP implementation: lessons from a case study. Information Technology & People 16(1), 21–33. AVISON DE (1993) Human, Organizational and Social Dimensions of Information Systems Development. North-Holland, Amsterdam, 496pp. BAILEY JE and PEARSON SW (1983) Development of a tool for measuring and analyzing computer user satisfaction. Management Science 29(5), 530–545. BEYNON-DAVIES P (1995) Information systems ‘Failure’: the case of the London Ambulance Service’s Computer Aided Despatch Project. European Journal of Information Systems 4, 171–184. BEYNON-DAVIES P (1999) Human error and information systems failure: the case of the London Ambulance Service Computer-Aided Despatch system project. Interacting with Computers 11, 699–720. COLLINS T (1997) (with BICKNELL, D.) Crash: Ten Easy Ways to Avoid a Computer Disaster. Simon and Schuster, London.
European Journal of Information Systems
Turnaround of the LASCAD
Guy Fitzgerald and Nancy L. Russo
DARKE P, SHANKS G and BROADBENT M (1998) Successfully completing case study research: combining rigour, relevance and pragmatism. Information Systems Journal 8(4), 273–289. DELONE WH and MCLEAN ER (1992) Information systems success: the quest for the dependent variable. Information Systems Research 3(1), 60–95. DELONE WH and MCLEAN ER (2003) The DeLone and McLean model of information systems success: a ten-year update. Journal of Management Information Systems 19(4), 9–30. EIN DOR P and SEGEV E (1978) Organizational context and the success of management information systems. Management Science 24(10), 1064–1077. FINKELSTEIN A and DOWELL J (1996) A comedy of errors: the London Ambulance Service case study. In Proceedings Eighth International Workshop on Software Specification & Design IWSSD-8, pp 2–4, IEEE CS Press: Washington, DC, USA. FLOWERS S (1997) Information systems failure: identifying the critical failure factors. Failure and Lessons Learned in Information Technology Management 1, 19–29. GALLIERS RD (1992) Choosing information systems research approaches. In Information Systems Research: Issues, Methods and Practical Guidelines (GALLIERS RD, Ed.), pp 144–162, Blackwell Scientific, Oxford. THE GUARDIAN (1992) Ambulance Chief Resigns, 29th November, pp 1–2. IIVARI J and IGBARIA M (1997) Determinants of user participation: a Finnish survey. Behaviour and Information Technology 16(2), 111–121. THE INDEPENDENT (1992) Software Failure May be Behind Ambulance Crisis by Susan Watts and Ian McKinnon, 30th October 1992, p 2. INTRONA L (1996) Management. Information and Power, Macmillan. IVES B, OLSEN M and BAROUDI JJ (1983) The measurement of user information satisfaction. Communications of the ACM 26(10), 785–793. JIANG JJ and KLEIN G (1999) Risks to different aspects of system success. Information and Management 36, 263–272. KANELLIS P, LYCETT M and PAUL RJ (1999) Evaluating business information systems fit: from concept to practical application. European Journal of Information Systems 8, 65–76.
KIRS JP, PFLUGHOEFT K and KROECK G (2001) A process model cognitive biasing effects in information systems development and usage. Information and Management 38, 153–165. LI Y (1997) Perceived importance and information system success factors: a meta analysis of group differences. Information and Management 32, 15–28. LYYTINEN K and HIRSCHHEIM R (1987) Information systems failures – a survey and classification of the empirical literature. Oxford Surveys in Information Technology 4, 257–309. MARKUS L (1983) Power, politics and MIS implementation. Communications of the ACM 26, 430–444. MARKUS ML and KEIL M (1994) If We Build It, They Will Come: Designing Information Systems That People Want to Use. Sloan Management Review 35(4), 11–25. MCGRATH K (2002) The Golden Circle: a way of arguing and acting about technology in the London Ambulance Service. European Journal of Information Systems 11, 251–256. OLSEN MH and IVES B (1981) User involvement in systems design: an empirical test of alternative approaches. Information & Management 4, 183–195. PAGE D, WILLIAMS P and BOYD D (1993) Report of the Public Inquiry into the London Ambulance Service. HMSO, London (referred to as the Page Report). SARKIS J and SUNDARRAJ RP (2003) Managing large-scale global enterprise resource planning systems: a case study at Texas Instruments. International Journal of Information Management 23(5), 431–442. SAUER C (1993) Why Information Systems Fail: A Case Study Approach. Alfred Waller, Henley-On-Thames, Oxfordshire. THE TIMES (1992) New Failings Force 999 Staff to Ditch Computers’ by Tim Jones, 11th May 1992, p 6. WASTELL D and NEWMAN M (1996) Information systems design, stress and organisational change in the Ambulance Services, A Tale of Two Cities. Accounting, Management & Information Technology 6(4), 283–299. WILSON M and HOWCROFT D (2002) Re-conceptualising failure: social shaping meets IS research. European Journal of Information Systems 11, 236–250.
European Journal of Information Systems
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
Continue Reading

Please join StudyMode to read the full document

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • London Ambulance Service Computer Aided Dispatch (Lascad) Essay
  • London Ambulance Service Computer Aided Dispatch System Lessons Learnt Report Essay
  • Essay on London Ambulance Service Failures
  • A Knowledge Management Case Study of London Ambulance Service Computer Aided Despatch System Essay
  • Essay about Computer-Aided Examination System
  • Computer-Aided Examination System Essay
  • London Ambulance Service Computer Aided Dispatch Failure 1992
  • Computer System Information System Paper

Become a StudyMode Member

Sign Up - It's Free