Councils shoot for mid-2011 IRIS release

Only delay in shared IT platform project is in setting up a new controlling organisation

There are “green lights everywhere” on the Integrated Regional Information System (IRIS) joint regional council information services project, says project director Derek Postlewaight.

The project has begun development, shooting for a release-to-testing date of mid-2011, with completion of the last details likely before the end of that year.

IRIS is designed to serve the major ICT needs of Environment Waikato (where Postle-waight is based), Northland Regional Council, Horizons-Manawatu, the West Coast Regional Council, Environment Southland and the Taranaki Regional Council.

Datacom has been contracted to develop the system, which Postlewaight says is currently running to timetable and within budget.

The only hold up so far is the establishment of a new joint Council Controlled Organisation to own and manage the system, which is still under way. The legal and administrative processes this requires proved to be rather more complex and drawn-out than expected, he says.

The development is a tightly integrated assembly of modules, which makes it impractical to convert one function at a time across from the councils’ old systems, he says. So transfer to the new system next year will be a major change-management exercise.

IRIS consists of a framework providing common services used by several applications, such as CRM, spatial databases and security. Applications will slot into that framework. The first applications under development are processing of consent applications and ongoing monitoring under the Resource Management Act, and biosecurity.

Each council will be responsible for its own information stored in the central system, Postlewaight says.

IRIS is using package software for individual applications where possible and a lot of use will be made of Microsoft’s SharePoint, but some of the system has still had to be built from the ground up, he says.

The regional councils had hoped that an existing territorial local authority (TLA) system could be adapted for their use, but the tasks of a regional council are different from those of a TLA.

Meanwhile, the councils have formed a “collaborative group”, which is providing central coordination and owns the intellectual property in the development.

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