Manufacturing and Industry

Benefits

• Can perform monotonous, repetitive tasks without becoming tired, bored, ill or making mistakes.

• Can cut labour costs significantly.

• Can work in low lighting and temperature, saving on energy costs.

• Can work in hazardous conditions, e.g. radiation, heat, chemicals.

Drawbacks

• Can only do what they are programmed to do, which makes them inflexible and unable to respond to unexpected events.

• There is a very high initial cost, and maintenance cost.

• May need specialist support if the machinery or associated software fails.

eCommerce

Benefits

• More efficient service - always staff at the end of the phone or computer.

• Greater flexibility e.g. wider payment options, ability to shop around for best deal.

• More choice in products and services available on line.

• Convenience – not having to leave home to go shopping, the bank, book holiday etc.

Drawbacks

• Loss of personal service, e.g. less opportunity to speak with the bank manager.

• Could lead to job losses.

• Not everybody feels comfortable using ICT facilities.

• Smaller retailers may be forced to close.

Medicine

Benefits

• MRI scanners used to help diagnose patients’ conditions more accurately.

• Microprocessors used to control patient support devices such as pace makers.

• Computer guided lasers used in brain surgery.

• Quicker and more efficient access to patient records.

• Transfer of information between general practices and hospitals is quicker.

• Data can be queried to provide analyses of certain medical conditions.

• internet may provide diagnosis for people who do not wish to visit a doctor.

Drawbacks

• Not all patient records are on a computer system.

• not all regions may want to share their data.

• Problems with security of data which needs to be kept confidential.

• Not all web sites contain trustworthy material, which could lead to mis-diagnosis.

The Home

Benefits

• Students use the internet at home for research, and word processing assignments.

• Many families shop using the internet and on-line sites to order and pay for goods.

• On-line banking provides 24/7 access to account details, and transfer of funds.

• Spreadsheets can be used to manage household budgets and personal finances.

• entertainment, such as playing games, listening to music, watching films.

Drawbacks

• people go out less, which leads to a loss of personal interaction and social skills.

• dependency on the systems, and if they fail, may require specialist repairs.

Education

Benefits

• Much wider sources of information.

• Software to help with learning (CAL packages).

• Interactive white boards and college intranets.

• Distance learning using intranets and internets.

• Admin – on line registers, exam systems.

Drawbacks

• Very high initial costs which can make it unattainable for some schools or colleges due to lack of finance and high student numbers.

• Overuse of ICT can cause a reduction in the learning of social skills and group interaction.

e-mail

Benefits

• the ability to share data and multimedia via attachments; • receive notification of delivery, receipt and reading;

• send multiple copies using address book;

• audit facilities – able to store messages sent, track emails by date, time and author.

Drawbacks

• only available to those with internet connection.

• allows the spreading of viruses.

Teleworking

Benefits

• More flexible use of time e.g work around school time, or care for elderly relative.

• Working in a personal environment – able to keep it as they want (quiet, tidy, warm).

• No travelling costs or time.

Drawbacks

• It can lead to social isolation.

• Some work requires direct personal contact to ensure information is fully communicated.

• interruptions and distractions, and there is no place to escape the work.

The Internet

Benefits

• very wide range of information.

• can be accessed 24/7.

• no need to leave the home for shopping/banking/socialise.

• good for elderly or housebound people.

Drawbacks

• no control over what is actually posted on the different web sites.

• information downloaded and used needs to be verified to ensure its validity.

• people using chat rooms/forums may not be who they pretend to be.

• illegal/unsuitable material posted.

Appropriate Use of ICT equipment /Internet

Some rules which may apply for the use of ICT in the workplace. Users should:

• report broken equipment.

• not store/download games or unauthorised software on computers.

• keep regular backups of their work.

• not alter hardware and software settings.

• not use the organisation’s network to send inappropriate emails and attachments.

• log off when they leave the work station.

• not reveal confidential details to others.

• change passwords regularly; do not reveal passwords; do not use obvious words.

• not use the internet to access inappropriate material.

• not open file attachments if the source is unknown.

• not use the internet for hacking, spreading viruses or other illegal activities.

• not use the internet for violating copyright.

Inappropriate use of ICT/Internet

• deliberately damaging hardware or software.

• using ICT/internet to commit fraud, blackmail, downloading/emailing offensive material.

• personal use of internet, emails, on line shopping, banking, chat rooms whilst at work.

• deliberately altering company data.

• stealing company data.

• using the system to find information about other people e.g. how much money they have in their bank account.

• hacking into another person’s account/computer.

• spilling food/drink on the computer equipment.

Health and Safety

The “Health and Safety at Work Act” is the legislation which protects employees working with ICT systems. Failure by organisations to comply with this act can lead to prosecution by employees who suffer from injuries or illnesses as a result of factors within their working environment. Health and safety considerations include:

• Adequate ventilation/controlled temperature.

• Natural lighting.

• Tiltable screens with screen filters to minimise glare.

• Height and back adjustable chairs.

• No food or drinks near the workstations.

• Take regular breaks or change activity away from the workstation.

• Ergonomic keyboards with wrist rests.

• Footrests.

Such legislation helps to protect against:

• Repetitive strain injury (RSI).

• Eye strain.

• Epilepsy.

• Back and upper joint problems.

• Exposure to radiation.

• Stress-related illness.

Health and safety features of a software packages and the risks they reduce

• good help or clear instructions to prevent confusion leading to stress.

• good use of colour, the avoidance of flashing lights, and suitable text size to prevent eye strain.

• Short cuts to reduce RSI.

• Clear menu structure/organisation to reduce stress from frustration of not being able to find things.

Code of Conduct

Many organisations will have a code of conduct or “Acceptable use policy” which will help prevent their own staff from misusing ICT facilities. This may include:

• Appropriate use of the Internet.

• Appropriate use of the ICT equipment.

• Appropriate use of networks (email).

• User responsibilities.

Effect on Employment

Making use of computers would normally reduce the number of tedious, low paid jobs that humans would have to do. This would enable the humans to be re-trained for higher skilled, higher paid jobs.

Computer Science


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