Changes at Cognitas, and what this means…


As many of you know, even though Cognitas was a Company Limited by Shares, it has always been run as a not-for-profit organisation as I believe that profit should not be made from safety in a recreational activity.

Originally, Cognitas was formed to provide a formal basis for the management of DISMS and to provide credibility for the work I am doing. It was formed as a Company Limited by Shares rather than Guarantee as the business partner I had at the time was more interested in making money more than he was in helping the community: that person is no longer a Director or has anything to do with Cognitas.

Unfortunately I cannot continue to invest the sums I have over the last few years and therefore I have decided to absorb Cognitas into a new venture which allows me to offset Cognitas’ losses against the new venture’s profits. So far the losses of Cognitas are in the order of £5000+, with running costs of DISMS and Cognitas in the order of £2000 per year by the time IT, hosting, software and company management fees are taken into account.  This obviously doesn’t take into account the 100s of hours of work which I have personally invested which have been for free.

I have tried to gain financial support from the major organisations within the recreational diving community but this has not been successful, maybe because there is no way of ‘advertising’ on the DISMS front page for them to see a return in their investment.

I really hope the change won’t be permanent and I have looked to put measures in place to reduce the likelihood of this continuing permanently.  These include:

  • A revised User Interface (UI) – example here
  • Some backend infrastructure changes for the DISMS database

These are both being launched at Eurotek 2014 (although this won’t be part of my presentation there). The revised UI will allow commercial support to be more obvious, and allow different organisations to have an individual portal page. The backend changes are there to allow multiple organisations to enter data securely and confidentially but for users to search a common, open-database across multiple organisations so that lessons can be learned from a much wider pool of information.

The reason for this latter piece is that a non-UK diving organisation wants to use the DISMS platform for incident reporting but data protection (both ways) means that access to raw data would be possible if these changes were not incorporated.  I have also approached other organisations with a view to hosting already publicly available information on DISMS so the pool of information gets larger and am waiting to hear back about this.

Of note, if the investment in development and running costs is realised to make the business viable as a standalone entity, I will reform Cognitas as a Community Interest Company or Company Limited by Guarantee.

I know that this is a significant change, and it might be a change which some might find unpalatable because this confirms the suspicion that I have always been out to make money from the diving community.  This can’t be further from the truth and I am frustrated and upset when people accuse me of that. I do this work because I believe things can be improved, but the financial outlay is personally unsustainable.

Those who are concerned about data protection as Cognitas is subsumed into another organisation, the new venture’s ICO statements will be updated to take DISMS and Cognitas data-protection requirements into account before that organisation is fully formed. I will not sell and give personal information to third parties. The company details will also be updated at that time.

I truly hope that I will get the support needed and that Cognitas can once again be independent. If you are interested in supporting DISMS, please contact me and I will let you know how I can help.

By the way, if anyone thinks I am giving this up, I am not! I am still committed to working with the community to improve safety by challenging ‘the way we’ve always done it’ and encouraging a ‘Just Culture’ within the community.

Please consider sharing this message to your diving community friends and colleagues.

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