CityLab recently published a fascinating story about the ongoing struggle to upgrade internal and customer-facing information systems in New York City’s subway system – the MTA. I highly recommend the read.
James Somers does a succinct job surveying the complexity – physical and human – of bringing large-scale change to a system that’s a hundred-plus years old, a utility depended upon by millions every single day. Though the MTA’s is a monumental endeavor, the issues will be painfully familiar to those of us involved in software development on smaller scales: entrenched systems, non-cooperative organizations and entities, non-existent requirements docs – the list is wince-inducing. It’s a clear-eyed view into the trials and tribulations of dragging a transportation system rooted in the 19th century into the 21st.