Deja-Vu at Taoyuan Airport

19 Minutes of Havoc:

Taoyuan International Airport of Taiwan.

Taoyuan International Airport of Taiwan.

More specifically, the immgration computer system in the airport crashed on Friday the 13th this month, the second occurrence reported this year.

The crash began at 6:24 am and was resolved 19 minutres later after some immediate repair work.  The first time taught the airport management staff a lesson: anything can be possible, even the attack on the safety of the computer systems.

The registering of incoming and outgoing travelers at the immigration apartment had to be operated manually, again.  What could be a practical joke, already initited fears of the repeat of a major chaos recently, in January 5, when the system was out for one day.

Huang Pi-Hsia is the spokeswoman of the National Immigration Agency (NIA) and offers her incite: the two system crashes are different.  Huang explains, the January incident stemmed from a malfunction of the system’s hard disk drive while this past Friday’s was due to a system overload with the traveler data.

The Interior Ministry, with the new found information, penalized the following responsible: NAI head, Hsieh Li-Kung, deputy Ho Jung-Tsun, and an anonymous official in charge of the computer systems.  From the previous incident, spokeswoman Huang has as well, received a demerit.  January’s crash allowed under a handful of travelers to sneak through, unaware by staff.

The Big Headache:

(Photo, courtesy of CNA)  NIA border affairs personnel answer phone calls and check records at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport.

(Photo, courtesy of CNA) NIA border affairs personnel answer phone calls and check records at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport.

January 5th’s  36-hour crash caused a huge headache for all staff personnel and tourists alike.  The failure of the system directly affected the NIA, forcing the immigration agents to work through manual procedure and have all staff, take traveller’s information by hand.

Lines built-up, headaches, dosage of caffeine, and nicotine break-down rose with the impatience of the queued travelers.

There was an approximate number of 20,000 travellers departing from the airport during the blackout which became a nightmare for the NIA.  The agency could not go back online to view if anyone had entered or exited the country illegaly, which proposes a huge problem, especially considering the fact that it was an exceptionally busy travel day (as people wish to return home from their holiday vacations), did not help the situation.

The agency had recently terminated its contract with the company providing the computer system’s maintenance tasks and employed a replacement company only one week later.

While the Agency reported the average per-passenger wait was between three to five minutes, some interviewed by the local news were quoted to have waited as long as 20 minutes, however due to the situation, the flights were delayed accordingly to allow enough time for passengers to board.  The agency as well reports, in their relief – not one person missed their outgoing flight, despite luggage mix-ups: a number of travelers hesitated to continue onto their flights without their checked luggage after a conveyor belt had malfunctioned for nearly two hours.

36 Hours Later:

(Photo, courtesy of CNA)  Passengers undergo high-level security checks at the Taoyuan Airport.

(Photo, courtesy of CNA) Passengers undergo high-level security checks at the Taoyuan Airport.

The NIA feared the worst: travellers taking advantage of the blackout and 2.5 days for full repair.

The Taoyuan airport was not alone in the problem: the Kaohsiung International Airport, Kinmen Airport and the Nangan Airport (on Matsu Island) were all affected as well, however were reported to have been fixed later that night (Monday).

Hsieh Li-Gong (謝立功), is Chief of the NIA.  Gong dismissed the rumors of a disgruntling individual responsible for the glitch by stating the source of the problem was with the “faulty hard drives.”  They were all replaced in both terminals of the Taoyuan airport Tuesday, January 6.

Despite the 36-hours taken to repair the system, the severity of the damage led officials to estimate another 48 hours to completely restore all information.  During this time, the agency used all their manual and labour resources in increasing efforts on security and promised a detail report after the blackout.

The NIA calls it the worst computer glitch brought to the agency over the past five years.

To accommodate the long queues, the Agency opened 40 immigration booths and have dispatched additional immigration officers to assist in recording passengers’ travel information and checks, before re-entering all the information into the datbase, once back online.

Meet Su Jun-Pin, Government Information Office Minister.  In reasoning to a possible method to prevent a repeat, he quotes a statement from Premier Liu Chao-Shiuan (劉兆玄), stating that the Ministry of Interior could improvise their crisis management capabilities and [computer] equipment, considering Taiwan’s ample technology.

Premier Liu Chao-shiuan at a weekly Cabinet meeting in which the draft package of regulations governing the development of Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport was reviewed and approved.

Premier Liu Chao-shiuan at a weekly Cabinet meeting in which the draft package of regulations governing the development of Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport was reviewed and approved.

Chen Ken-Te, a Legislator of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) suggests that the problem occurred due to negligence: it was a result of longstanding management problems, long ignored, unresolved and created a build-up to this issue.

Chen offers a solution: the Legislature should expedite the passage of a draft Taoyuan Airport special statute transforming it into ao corporation, in such would significantly enhance competitiveness and replace their traditionally used bureaucratic system – with a professional management team.

Another Legislator, within the KMT party, Yang Li-Huan (楊麗環), was disappointed.  Such an incident, he says, should not have presented itself in the begining.  The Ministry is at risk.  If the problem derives from the lack of quality in the systems, the government should look into and revise the rules for procurement bids: the current approach allows bidders to offer the lowest desired price, in competition to win a project – which causes a bigger problem.  The problem in lacking a proper, sound investment leave contractors with no choice, but to compromise on the quality.

Ker Chien-Ming, Democratic Progressive Party‘s (DPP) Legislator complains that the problem lasted too long and have greatly jeopardized Taiwan’s national security and international image from the Agency’s incompetence in their duties, thus in due, should be held responsible.

“It’s hard to believe that such a glitch would happen in Taiwan,” a traveler, who wishes to remain anonymous, comments.

Infamous Technology:

25th Computex Taipei Technology Show is the worlds 2nd most important technology Fair (following the CeBit Technology Fair in Germany), and the largest in Asia.

25th Computex Taipei Technology Show is the world's 2nd most important technology Fair (following the CeBit Technology Fair in Germany), and the largest in Asia.

Taiwan stands as Asia’s no. 2 leader in technology, following Japan, according to a news report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

The report revelaed Taiwan’s economy in jumping four spots from its previous ranking, trailing the United States which topped the index for the second consecutive year.

Tony Nash is the Unit’s Asia Director for the country and economic research.  Nash applauds Taiwan’s strong performance in Research and Development (R&D) which was overall, the source of its improvement.  More specifically, Taiwan ranked top in the world on patents, which averagely generates one patent per 2,000 people.

However, despite the advance in technology and technological R&D, the global economy has even affected the markets.  It has become so fragile, in fact, even an earthquake came at a cost.

Present day’s semiconductors’ circuits are tiny, in fact, they are so small, it is exactly 1/400 the thickness of one strand of hair.

(Photo, courtesy of daylife)  An employee of Intel Corporation explains details of their computer chips at Computex Taipei, the biggest information technology trade show in Asia, Tuesday, June 3, 2008, in Taipei, Taiwan.

(Photo, courtesy of daylife) An employee of Intel Corporation explains details of their computer chips at Computex Taipei, the biggest information technology trade show in Asia, Tuesday, June 3, 2008, in Taipei, Taiwan.

Taiwan is recognized as the world’s fourth largest maker of semiconductors and third largest, in personal computers (Such as the leading Asus and Acer brands, which still stands today as some of Europe’s no. one seller) while most of its other products, such as chips, memory cards, etc., are shipped to foreign big-brand companies such as I.B.M., Motorola and Toshiba, to name a few.

The affects run deeper than just semiconductors, the ‘brains‘ of personnal computers.  High-technology manufacturers purchase main personal computer circuits, or motherboards as well as monitors, liquid-crystal displays, batteries and charges from Taiwanese companies.

These companies are part of what creates notebook computers for Fujitsu, NEC and Apple computers, among others.  Compaq computers come to Taiwan for hard-disk drives…  Dell and Hewlett-Packard (HP) come to Taiwan as well, in purchase of computer modems…

Aside computers, even toymakers such as Mattel and the Bandai Company of Japan purchase equipment from Taiwan.  On average, the island exports a minimum of USD $12 billion annually in high technology products to foreign manufacturers.

“Taiwan is Asia-Pacific’s single most important hub for chip design,” Global Sources’ Electronics Business Unit President Mark Saunderson comments, “Its IC industry is forecast to generate US$39 billion in revenue this year (2006), making it very attractive to technology companies worldwide.”

Heading even further back, in January 2005, Taiwan’s TPV Technology Ltd. signed with Royal Philips Electronics to take over the Dutch company’s computer display division.

The deal lead Taiwan’s TPV tecnology as the largest recognized computer display company in the world.  The Taiwanese company, already standing as the world’s second largest (in computer display companies) with annual revenues recorded of USD $2 billion, is listed as 29 in the list of info Tech 100 IT companies (in BusinessWeek).

Responsibility:

Friday, January 23, the Ministry of Interior (MOI) produced a list of those responsible in the 36-hour blackout.

One of the Ministry’s fears made true: eight people, during the brief period of travel restrictions, had slipped through national security, and have since been located.

“I cannot tell you who is on the list, but I can say all the top NIA officers’ names were mentioned,” NIA Deputy-chief Ho Jung-Chun (何榮村) said.

Chien Tai-Lang (簡太郎) is MOI’s Deputy Minister.  Chien breifed that the names have been submitted to the Ministry’s internal review board for investigation, and voiced concern on if the punishments would be met.

To date, the blackout breaks history for the NIA as the worst malfunction of its kind.  NIA Chief, Hsieh Li-Gung (謝立功) reports that it took over 24 hours to enter all the hand-documented information, totalling the entire recovery process: 36 + 48 + 24 = 108 hours…

Hard-drives are a pain in the @$$.

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~ by Lan on 2008 SatUTC2009-02-14T15:01:45+00:00. 15.

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