by Brian T
As with my first blog entry of the quarter, I have again returned focus to database efforts that deal with the public sector and consumer involvement. I have found an article regarding a database system/web service that the government has put into place specifically for the registered complaints of unsafe products. At “saferproducts.gov”, one can input basic information and insert their own entry into the managed database that logs data about defective or potentially harmful commercial products currently available on the shelves of local stores. Similar to NamUs (National Missing and Unidentified Missing Persons System), the project is fairly slow to pick up steam in consumer households, but according to the article thousands of complaints have already been registered and legal action has already been taken by one disgruntled company that made it’s way into the system.
I visited the website to observe how it has been setup and it’s ease of use. Although I would have liked to have tested the system first-hand, I currently do not have a product to complain about and obviously am not going to generate a false one for testing purposes – seeing as how it might harm the reputation of a given company or manufacturing. That being said, the browser interface looks clean, runs smoothly, and is not overly complex to use – especially for non-experienced computer users. They even allow for various types of entry methods – online, traditional mail, or telephone. The CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission – organization in charge of the site) appear to have spent adequate resources in developing a database tool that will hopefully be beneficial to all consumers. It is one government project that cannot be labeled as heavily flawed or a massive failure (for a change).
As I reported with the NamUs system a few months prior, the main antagonist of these public government database systems is lack of recognition from citizens and public sector organizations alike. 6,500 complaints and have been registered thus far (not a ton, but a fair amount) and despite it’s design for use by every type of party, 97% of them have been from consumer sources. Once again, it is government agencies that are partially responsible for not properly advocating a tool that they themselves have helped establish. As long as these complimentary tools exist in our society, they should be utilized as often as possible.
If nothing else, it’s something to keep in mind should your iPhone ever explode.
Press, A. (2012, March 7). Gov’t safety database logs thousands of complaints; kitchen appliances big source of concern. . Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/govt-safety-database-logs-thousands-of-complaints-kitchen-appliances-big-source-of-concern/2012/03/08/gIQAPYSCyR_story.html