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Roger Clarke's 'I.T. and Public Safety


Notes of May 1996

Roger Clarke

© Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd, 1996

This document is a companion to another one that examines impacts of information technology on people.

Many applications of IT embody significant vulnerabilities for the organisations that operate the system, but also for their clients, and for third parties. Companies and government agencies have only themselves to blame if they fail to assess and manage the risk of harm to themselves and their employees. The focus in this document is on impacts on people generally.

There's a wide range of factors that result in risks to public safety. The following diagram lists them and shows their interactions.

Sources of Risk and Vulnerability

The kinds of people who can be affected by systems include:

Several different kinds of systems can impact public safety:


Here are some additional sources of information about IT impacts on public safety.

Risks Generally

Risks Forum Digest. Pick an issue and browse; then pick a theme such as aircraft accidents or Unix system security, and follow threads

Peter Ladkin's list of aircraft accidents in which software error was implicated


The Australian Computer Emergency Response Team

The U.S. Computer Incident Advisory Capability

The home-page of Nancy Leveson, a leading researcher and author in the area

The Code of Conduct of the Australian Computer Society, and the more detailed Code of Professional Conduct and Professional Practice


A set of 'robot rules', i.e. laws which could be used to guide the design of systems which incorporate robotics

The only page that came up when I used Alta Vista to search for 'robotics' and 'safety'!!

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The content and infrastructure for these community service pages are provided by Roger Clarke through his consultancy company, Xamax.

From the site's beginnings in August 1994 until February 2009, the infrastructure was provided by the Australian National University. During that time, the site accumulated close to 30 million hits. It passed 65 million in early 2021.

Sponsored by the Gallery, Bunhybee Grasslands, the extended Clarke Family, Knights of the Spatchcock and their drummer
Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd
ACN: 002 360 456
78 Sidaway St, Chapman ACT 2611 AUSTRALIA
Tel: +61 2 6288 6916

Created: 18 May 1996 - Last Amended: 18 May 1996 by Roger Clarke - Site Last Verified: 15 February 2009
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