Following is a question by the Hon Mrs Selina Chow and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, in the Legislative Council today (December 5):
It has been reported that while the number of transactions in the property market has increased recently, the Integrated Registration Information System of the Land Registry repeatedly broke down or slowed down between mid and end of October this year. Members of the public therefore had to queue in person at the Land Registry in Queensway to inspect the land registers. Such a situation had caused great inconvenience to both the public and the property agency sector. After investigation, the Land Registry indicated that the main cause of the problem was transitional teething problems arising from the operation of the new software system. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) whether there were incidents of major breakdown or slowdown of the above information system last year; if so, of the details (including the date of occurrence, duration of service disruption and the reasons thereto, the time taken to repair the system and the number of complaints received); and
(b) whether the above teething problems have been resolved completely and what measures the authorities will take to ensure smooth operation of the system and achieve the target of "zero breakdown", even when the system is being upgraded or the demand for online services of the above information system surges considerably?
Since its launch in February 2005, the internet search service of the Land Registry (LR)'s Integrated Registration Information System (IRIS) has been running smoothly in general. The slowdown of the internet search service, after a software upgrade of IRIS in late October 2007, is an isolated incident. The LR took immediate remedial measures and the service has been running smoothly since the completion of the restoration work.
My reply to the two-part question is as follows:
(a) The prolonged slowdown of the internet search service of IRIS in late October 2007 is unprecedented since the commencement of the system. Apart from that incident and other pre-announced scheduled shutdowns of the IRIS for regular maintenance, the service encountered breakdown or slowdown lasting for more than one hour on five occasions in the past year. The duration of service disruption in these incidents totalled 18 hours, or 0.3% of total service hours for the whole year. All incidents were promptly attended to. Detailed information is set out at the Annex.
In the past year, the LR received ten complaints. Apart from one that was received in July 2007, the other nine cases were received after the aforementioned incident concerning the service in October this year.
(b) The slowdown of the internet search service in late October 2007 happened after upgrading of one of the main software components of IRIS. The LR together with its system maintenance contractor took immediate remedial measures to stabilise the system and to restore the search service to normal speed. Special arrangements were put in place during the incident to urgently handle customer enquiries and meet customer demands to obtain search services by making use of the LR's public offices and internal computer facilities. In-depth check-up of IRIS conducted by the LR reconfirmed that the problem was caused by some parameters in the upgraded software. Such parameters have been appropriately adjusted and there has been no recurrence of the same problem.
IRIS possesses adequate capacity to handle the projected demand of search services. Although the use of IRIS has increased over the past year, the daily search volume on weekdays is still within the capacity of the system. IRIS is able to handle close to 40,000 requests in one day. The current daily average for search requests is about 26,000 on weekdays, 8,000 on Saturdays and 3,000 on Sundays.
The LR is now working to take forward the introduction of an "External Search System" to enhance internet search service and improve customer service. We cannot pledge the target of "zero breakdown", but the new system will be able to provide even longer hours of service each day and will not be affected by maintenance and upgrading work carried out on IRIS or the future title registration system. It is expected that the new system will be ready by the end of 2009.
Ends/Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Issued at HKT 15:00
Annex to LCQ8