Freesteel Blog » Zero zero data loss capability in the EPC database contract

Zero zero data loss capability in the EPC database contract

Friday, July 22nd, 2011 at 7:46 am Written by:

I have been on the case of the Energy Performance Certificate database for a long time. This is a European mandated scheme for rating houses on the market so people can know if they’re buying a gas-guzzler or not.

Or, to put it another way, if you invest money into insulating your home and making it more energy efficient you should expect its value to go up, even if it looks exactly the same as all the other houses in the street (even though the changes are invisible if they are not solar panels).

I am in pursuit of the bizarre determination that the EPC database constitutes private personal information.

I am also looking at the company that has been contracted to run the database, Landmark Information Group Limited. First, I asked for the contract.

This turns out to be pretty long and full of planned paperwork. The amount of legal effort that went into it probably exceeds the amount of work it ought to take to code, because it’s not exactly a complicated database system, you know.

And there are components of the system that really should be spun out into their own national apps because they would be bloody useful to so many other services, like the issuing of Unique Property Reference Numbers (UPRN).

You know what I mean?

Anyways, all of this mismanagement seems to absorb what should be a tidy profit into the production of reasonably functionless website.

And they refused to disclose what software they were using as a basis (as it was listed in the contract). Here’s why:

So, it’s a unique arrangement of off-the-shelf systems that guarantees zero data loss, but if a hacker knew it was built using some crappy microsoft database or a rip-off SAP system, then they could break it.

Luckily the Information Commissioner didn’t buy the “It’s our own special sauce made from traditional ingredients” argument:

Unfortunately, he did buy the bogus Security through obscurity myth:

For this, he referred to an Information Tribunal ruling Department of Health v Information Commissioner EA/2008/0018, like so:

Here’s that line from the table he quoted from:

Hm. Not very useful to leave out the other side of the argument on the same line when you cite it.

I could take this rather trivial matter to the Information Tribunal, but it’s probably not worth it.

Meanwhile, back at the contract, remember that they said:

One of DCLG’s most stringent requirements was for the solution to provide a ‘zero data loss’ capability. Landmark’s solution is a unique and very cost-effective way of providing a combination of specialist hardware and software, network and physical site configuration development. None of Landmark’s competitors offered the same solution.

Clearly, that means this requirement should show up in the tendering documents. Luckily the set of documents is described at the head of the contract:

I have transcribed this into a a request for all such documents.

What’s more curious is I had a close look for a manifestation in the contract of this remarkable and amazing unique winning combination.

And here it is!

Wow! What do you think of that!

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