New data-rich primary-industry organisation OSPRI, formed by the amalgamation of National Animal Identification and Tracing (Nait) and the Animal Health Board (AHB) is seeking senior executives, including a chief information officer. The CIO will be in charge of formulating an information strategy that will use the huge resources of data on 80,000 farms, their animals and their owners to the benefit of those owners and other stakeholders in the agricultural sector.
OSPRI (Operational Solutions for Primary Industries) will embrace the TBfree campaign for the eradication of tuberculosis in farm animals and will work alongside FarmsOnline and FarmIQ to add value to the information they hold.
The merging organisations “have a lot of capability and a lot of data” says OSPRI CEO William McCook, and they will be developing “externally facing” applications with a focus on customer service. These will range from tracking and restricting the spread of diseases to giving the eventual customer assurance of the source of the meat they buy and in the longer term sharing expertise in producing the kind of animals and the kind of meat the market needs.
As part of the merging of the information holdings under OSPRI, the different numbering schemes hitherto maintained by AHB and Nait will be merged, McCook confirms.
Expertise in business intelligence, data warehousing and geospatial information systems (GIS) will be particularly relevant for the CIO position, he says. Both organisations have strong ICT teams and McCook “wouldn’t rule out” an internal appointment; but the post has been internationally advertised, along with those of group managers for business strategy and corporate services and a group manager for programme design and farm operations.
McCook is currently the CEO of AHB, but will head up the new organisation when it officially starts operation on July 1.
Nait’s ICT side hit problems in development and met protest from farmers’ organisations about the extra work it would impose and whether the technology to be used was the most up-to-date available. The system is now working and was extended from cattle-only to deer on schedule on March 1. “There’s a lot of work still to be done with it,” McCook says, but before July 1, “I shouldn’t really speak for Nait”.