ECM contributing to the common good?

Last night I was catching up on my reading of the NY Times and caught an article in the magazine from a couple of weeks ago about the challenges that the FDA have in tracking overseas drug plants . A couple of things really stood out for me (in the middle of a lot of other depressing context):
1. That agents have to consult two different, incompatible, obsolete databases for plant information
2. That a major challenge for them was translation and mis-translation of plant names and locations from Chinese to English.

We tend to concentrate in our business on cost savings and process efficiencies (particularly, as Billy points out below, in the current economy), but here's a great concrete example of where a fairly basic UCM system could address these issues and probably save lives in the process. If we want to be cold-hearted accountants about this, the value of an adult, American human life is variously placed between one and ten million dollars (or $129,000 per year of "quality adjusted life"), so we could cover the cost of the entire project by saving one or two lives at the low end of the estimate.

This seems to really be an example where applying what we do each day could make a really positive impact and greatly improve the entire process (do we think FDA inspectors are pleased that their system can't tell the difference between Wangzhou #1 plant and Wangzhou Number One plant?) Let's incorporate spatial into the interface and there would never be a problem. Add in the ability to enter metadata in Chinese, Spanish, Vietnamese, or Hindi as well as English and to search against either, and to provide secure access to data from anywhere in the world and the inspectors could actually do what they do best and we would all benefit.

I'm sure there are examples all throughout government at all levels similar to this, but this struck me because of the clear benefits and the fact that it's a really simple problem for us to solve.

If anyone can put us in touch with the FDA, let's get started on this - we could be up and running in less than a year.

James often reminds us of the need to improve the world we live in through our actions, and I think this could be a great start. And go and contribute to Kiva while you are at it.

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