Parking Garage Software Gets Lost in Translation

Gives Commands In German When Garage is Full

1 min read
Parking Garage Software Gets Lost in Translation

There was an amusing story in last week's London Daily Mail about a Birmingham, England council-owned parking garage that has a ticket dispenser that switches from English instructions to German instructions on its display screen when the parking garage is full. Locals are apparently not amused.

According to this story a few days later, the city of Birmingham changed the parking garage's software in December when the city hosted its Frankfurt Christmas Market.

Unfortunately, the exact nature of the change was changed is not explained - I assume it was for the expected German visitors' benefit. For instance, were the parking garage's instructions now given in both German and English instead of just English? If so, was it for a specific period of time, since German instructions now seem only to appear when the parking garage is full. 

If the parking instructions were not given in both German and English, it would seem to be a bit silly to have a software "upgrade" so that the instructions were in English only when the parking garage was not full and in German when it was.

What, did the ticket dispenser's software designers think that German visitors are able to read and understand English when a British parking garage is empty but lose that ability when it is full?

The Daily Mail story shows a photo of the dispenser with a little paper sign attached to it that says helpfully that, "If display shows German writing it means car park is full. Please wait until display returns to English before obtaining ticket."

Plans are in the works to fix the software.

The Conversation (0)

Why Functional Programming Should Be the Future of Software Development

It’s hard to learn, but your code will produce fewer nasty surprises

11 min read
Vertical
A plate of spaghetti made from code
Shira Inbar
DarkBlue1

You’d expectthe longest and most costly phase in the lifecycle of a software product to be the initial development of the system, when all those great features are first imagined and then created. In fact, the hardest part comes later, during the maintenance phase. That’s when programmers pay the price for the shortcuts they took during development.

So why did they take shortcuts? Maybe they didn’t realize that they were cutting any corners. Only when their code was deployed and exercised by a lot of users did its hidden flaws come to light. And maybe the developers were rushed. Time-to-market pressures would almost guarantee that their software will contain more bugs than it would otherwise.

Keep Reading ↓Show less
{"imageShortcodeIds":["31996907"]}