Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Sharing information

I've been thinking a lot over the last couple of days about the importance of sharing information - mostly in the context of measuring services, something not-for-profits should get better at doing. But towards the end of the day I picked up this morning's paper, and came across this article, in which the NY Times reports about the increasing safety of commercial airline flight. Why? There are two reasons cited: one is an improvement in engineering.
Planes and engines have become more reliable. Advanced navigation and warning technology has sharply reduced once-common accidents like midair collisions or crashes into mountains in poor visibility.
But the other is a change in attitude: airlines are sharing information about near-misses, and a prevention mindset has taken hold:
[A]irlines and pilot groups have stepped up efforts to share safety concerns through a series of voluntary programs. Airlines agreed to participate after obtaining assurances that the information would not be used to discipline them.
An F.A.A. Web-based system, created in 2007, now includes information from 44 carriers. The result is widely viewed as successful, spawning an attitude that allows hazards to be identified before accidents occur.
The F.A.A. and airlines now systematically study data from flight recorders to analyze common problems, like finding the best angle of approach and speed to land at airports with tricky wind conditions.
Managers are often afraid of what they're going to reveal to regulators or competitors if they share their data. But information that's not available means that, well, no one can learn from it. It's hopeful news and a good piece of reporting. 


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