This chapter explores the issues of the interface between Information Systems (IS) and society. We investigate IS and users of these systems at a local parastatal educational institution in South Africa. Local governments have had many IS developed and implemented for the use of customers. The problem is that the impact of IS on social communities have not been taken into account, especially in e-governance in the South African context, when systems are being designed or implemented; as a result may lead to IS failures. Details regarding certain social aspects of IS are discussed. This chapter finally proposes a set of guidelines to help ensure that the social aspects of local government IS are taken into account in the design and implementation of these systems, thereby increasing the chance of success of those systems.
IS are becoming prominent and pervasive in governmental and local government institutions. People are being exposed to new technologies that aid or replace certain tasks and activities. As a results these IS have expected, and often unexpected and unplanned implications, for the users and encompassing social environment of those systems. These unexpected and unplanned implications can often impact negatively on users and their social environment.
The problem related to the social aspects of Information Systems is that they are rarely taken into account when systems are being designed or implemented. A major social aspect of an IS are the role that users play in the success of an IS, but the social implications that effect them are not fully accounted for by system designers\analysts and those implementing the system.
A literature survey will be used to establish a theoretical framework of the social implications of IS’s. Literature surveyed will be used to gain insight into the background of this area of research and to establish what problems other researchers have previously solved.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Information and Communication Technology (ICT): An umbrella term that includes all technologies for the communication of information. It encompasses: any medium to record information (whether paper, pen, magnetic disk/ tape, optical disks - CD/DVD, flash memory etc.); and also technology for broadcasting information - radio, television,; any technology for communicating through voice and sound or images- microphone, camera, loudspeaker, telephone to cellular phones.
Human-Computer Interaction: Discipline concerned with the study, design, construction and implementation of human-centric interactive computer systems.
Parastatal: A parastatal or para-statal is a fully or partially state-owned corporation or government agency
Social Aspects: The concept referrer to the ‘social’ consequences that technology has on a given organisational environment
Socio-Technical System: An approach to complex organizational work design that recognizes the interaction between people and technology in workplaces. The term also refers to the interaction between society’s complex infrastructures and human behaviour. User: An individual who uses a computer. This includes expert programmers as well as novices. An end user is any individual who runs an application program.
Information Systems: An information system is an arrangement of people, data, processes, information presentation and information technology that interact to support and improve day-to-day operations in a business, as well as support the problem-solving and decision-making needs of management and users.