Infamous Software Failures in New Zealand

I’ve been writing a grant application recently, and wanted to list some example software failures that occurred in New Zealand.  Here’s what I found:

  • In 2012, the role out of the new Novopay system for handling the teachers salary payrole caused numerous and ongoing problems. At this stage, it remains somewhat unclear what exactly the problems were. See this and this for more details.
  • In 2010, two commuter trains collided following a landslip north of Wellington, although fortunately no one was hurt. The subsequent investigation found that a computer glitch meant KiwiRail did not pass on a heavy rain warning that could have minimised the damage. See this and this for more details.
  • In 2012, a software hiccup meant that an ATM offered unlimited overdrafts! Customer for Taranaki Savings Bank where able to withdraw money they did not have, with on individual from New Plymouth withdrawing $31,500. See this fore more details
  • In 2011, a computer glitch caused a free-for-all at Pak’n’Save after causing the doors to automatically open despite being the supermarket being officially closed, allowing shoppers to walk away with free groceries. See this and this for more info.
  • About 200,000 newspaper subscribers in four New Zealand cities missed out on their morning papers after a computer glitch stopped the presses in 2011. See this and this for more info.
  • A software malfunction in 2011 meant Telecom customers hit their monthly cap earlier than they should have — leading to extra charges and/or throttling. See this for more info.
  • In 2003, Stock trading was suspended at the New Zealand stock exchange on Wednesday morning because of problems with a software upgrade at an associated share registry. See this for more info.
  • In 1997, a software error caused the the [[Tiwai Point]] aluminum smelter in Southland to shutdown at midnight on New Year’s Eve, causing more than $AU 1 million of damage. The problem was caused by an incorrect calculation regarding leap years.  The same problem was seen shortly after at Comalco’s Bell Bay smelter in Tasmania (which was two hours behind).  See this and this for more details.
  • In 2010, a glitch in the software system at Gisborne Hospital resulted in one patient’s data being displayed as though it were another patient.  Whilst the bug was fixed relatively soon after being detected, it had gone undetected for more than two years.  See this for more.
  • In 1992, an arithmetic overflow caused systems using the Tandem CLX clocks to reset time back to 1983.  This caused EFTPOS terminals and Westpac ATMs to crash.  The problem was identified and fixed within a few hours.  See this and this for more.
  • In 1999, a generator failure caused an IBM Tier 3 data center to fail.  This indicated an overall flaw in the data center’s design, which should have withstood a single component failure.  See this and this for more.
  • In 2010 the New Zealand Air Force refused to accept two upgraded [[Lockeed C-130 Hercules|Hercules C-130 Aircraft]] because of numerous bugs in their software.  The ripple on effect of this caused Air New Zealand to announce job losses at Safe Air, based in Blenheim.  See this for more.
  • In 2010, a bug in McAfee’s Antivirus software caused wide-spread problems on computers in institutions around New Zealand (and the world), including TVNZ.  See this for more.

Anyway, that’s all I managed to find so far.  If you know of any other good examples, I’d love to hear them!

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