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The importance of technology

02 December 2016
Volume 24 · Issue 12


Servers crashing and email failures highlight the negative aspects of our reliance on technology, but Sophie Windsor points out that there are also many potential benefits.

On Monday 14 November 2016, something happened that highlighted how much we rely on IT to function day-to-day. The whole NHS email system crashed, owing to the creation of a distribution list that accidently contained the email address of every single NHS employee and contractor (Siddique, 2016). A test email was sent to the 850 000-strong NHS workforce, then hundreds of people responded with the reply-all function, which sent the email system into chaos thanks to the large volume of messages. A health service statistician estimated that as many as 186 million emails were generated by this error, including the replies and automated out-of-office responses (I'm sure everyone who replied to all was displeased to find out that I was on annual leave).

When the error was highlighted, the IT department deleted the distribution list, and associated emails were tracked and deleted. Many employees took to social media to complain that they could not access their emails and that, when they did manage to, the server was being very slow.

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