13
Jan

2010

Cable Shut-down

Post by Steven Dale

Yesterday, in Lenggries Germany, a gondola system malfunctioned stranding dozens of riders in mid-air. Helicopters were were used in the rescue. There were no injuries. The system was built by a subsidiary of Thyssenkrupp, a manufacturer with little experience in cable transit.

Detractors of cable technology – I’m certain – will use this as evidence that cable technology is not reliable or safe, but the facts suggest otherwise. Problem is, those facts are too often silent.

In his book, The Black Swan, the philosopher, empirical skeptic and financial guru, Nassim Nicholas Taleb describes a phenomenon called Silent Evidence. Silent Evidence is a body of evidence on any given topic that fails to present itself because no one ever talks about it. For example, in the realm of entrepreneurship (he states), we believe risk-taking to be an inherent quality of a successful entrepreneur. Problem is, it’s a dubious claim because there have been literally millions of risk-taking failures but because we never discuss those failures, the evidence they offer becomes “silent” and doesn’t count.

Same deal for cable.

There are tens of thousands of cable systems around the world, the vast majority of which never receive an iota of attention because nothing remarkable ever happens to them. But the moment a problem does occur – as did yesterday – the media pounces.

But does the media respond over a jumper on a subway platform? How about a mid-intersection fatality caused by a light rail vehicle? How about a car crash? How about an hours-long service disruption? How about a Windows computer virus?Of course not. Why? Because those incidents are common; they happen everyday.

There’s a simple rule that can tell you all you need to know about the safety and reliability of any given technology: The degree of media coverage a given technology’s failure causes is inversely related to the chance of that failure’s occurrence.

That’s why we read about airplane crashes; they’re exceptional. If they happened every day, we wouldn’t be interested.



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Want more? Purchase Cable Car Confidential: The Essential Guide to Cable Cars, Urban Gondolas & Cable Propelled Transit and start learning about the world's fastest growing transportation technologies.

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