ITEX Computerworld Awards finalists announced

ICT Project of the Year, ICT Manager of the Year and Software Developer of the Year

Finalists for the 2011 ITEX Computerworld Awards have been announced.

This year the categories consist of ICT Project, ICT Manager sponsored by Cube People Recruitment, and Software Developer of the Year. The winners be announced at the ITEX Computerworld Awards and Networking Function on November 23.

ICT Project of the Year

The judges were looking for ICT projects that made a difference. Did the project achieve its goal? Did it stand out from the crowd? What were the challenges and how were they overcome?

The finalists are: Auckland Council for its wi-fi Expansion project; the Ministry of Social Development for its Earthquake Employment Support project; and Z Energy for its Enhance project.

• Wi-fi Expansion project

Auckland Council delivered an integrated wi-fi service that is available free of charge in selected main streets, train stations, buses and trains across the Auckland Region. Not only is this New Zealand’s largest city wi-fi network but the mix of connectivity options across 100 static and mobile nodes is believed to be unique in a network at this scale anywhere in the world.

While Auckland Council and its partner Tomizone managed to deploy the network infrastructure in just six weeks — in time for the Rugby World Cup — it is expected to operate long into the future. The wi-fi service will continue to run as a free or paid-for service, depending on sponsorship, and the network is designed to be able to used for additional municipal services such as CCTV, traffic control, and city ambassador information.

• Earthquake Employment Support project

The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) built the Earthquake Employment Support system specifically to provide financial assistance to employers and employees affected by the Christchurch earthquake of February 22 February.

This system allowed employers and employees to apply for financial assistance via a series of secure online forms which contained a validation level. Once submitted the forms were further validated at the database back-end including a check against Inland Revenue information. Successful applicants were informed of payment by SMS text and/or email and applicants could enquire on the status of their applications through the MSD contact centre.

Deployment of the system began on 28 February, less than a week after the earthquake, and payments made in the first week totalled $53 million. By the end of June, $202 million had been paid out, easing the financial hardship that had been suffered by 20,000 employers and 50,000 employees.

• Enhance project

When Infratil and the Guardians of New Zealand Superannuation bought Shell New Zealand’s downstream business to create Z Energy, they had also acquired an IT system that was less than ideal. Failures occured daily and personal productivity was poor, according to Z Energy.

The Enhance Project team was given eight months to put matters right. The tight timeframe was driven partly by contract-related cost factors and also by a business strategy that required new functionality to be in place during Z’s first year of operation.

Shifting to the new platform based on Windows 7 with Office 2010, involved a complete hardware refresh of 250 desktops and laptops, and the re-packaging or upgrade of about 40 software packages. A new SharePoint 2010 intranet was implemented along with a new server environment that included all new hardware (chassis, blades, SAN), a move to virtualisation and the implementation of many supporting programs.

ICT Manager of the Year, sponsored by Cube People Recruitment

This award has, as usual, been vigorously contested.

This year’s finalists are: Mark Bennett, The Salvation Army; Prescott Jones, Statistics New Zealand, and Troy Manning, Gen-i.

• Mark Bennett, The Salvation Army

Mark Bennett has worked in the IT industry since 1994 in New Zealand and the UK. In July 2005 he joined The Salvation Army as ISG Manager. The role specifically required technical and strategic leadership for all ICT matters within The Salvation Army New Zealand, Fiji, and Tonga. With 12 permanent employees and two contractors who are direct reports,

One of the key ICT projects that Bennet has led is Connected, an in-house application designed to enable the Salvation Army to interact with people and groups, communicate en-masse, and monitor attendance.

• Prescott Jones, Statistics New Zealand

Prescott Jones has advanced in the ICT industry over the last 10 years from an entry level helpdesk position to senior management roles. Joining Statistics New Zealand as a client services consultant in 2003, he recently started a secondment to the corporate support manager role.

In 2010 and 2011 Jones was involved with Statistics New Zealand’s recovery efforts following the Christchurch earthquake.

Over the three main seismic events Statistics NZ lost building access and the entire Christchurch IT network and environment. Working to business driven priorities, Jones orchestrated an effective response to each event, ensuring business continuity and quickly providing a full remote access solution.

• Troy Manning, Gen-i

Troy Manning began his career in IT in 1996 and has worked in a range of technical positions and managerial roles. His responsibilities have involved service desk support, on-call support, software testing and deployment, and client interaction. Manning joined Telecom in 2004 and then moved into Gen-i three years later.

Leading the crisis management team of 320 front-line staff during the September 2010 Christchurch earthquake, Manning hired and trained temporary staff, ran four daily crisis operational meetings, and managed call, case and client volume effectively.

Software Developer of the Year

This new award recognises the creative and practical skills of software developers, on which all ICT innovation rests. The judges were looking for someone who has: created software with tangible benefits, overcome challenges and measured success.

The finalists are: Philip Ball, Solutions Architect, Serko; Phil Calder, Senior Developer, Rapid Application Team, Ministry of Social Development; Tim Taylor, Senior Java Web Developer, Vero.

• Philip Ball, Solutions Architect, Serko

Philip Ball started out performing general maintenance and development for Serko in its back office accounting and travel product.

After two years he moved into the development of the SaaS product Serko Online, and was promoted after one year to become lead developer on this project.

The product went on to win a Microsoft E-Commerce solution of the year award, the first time a New Zealand software product had made it to the World Partner Awards.

• Phil Calder, Senior Developer, Rapid Application Team, Ministry of Social Development

Phil Calder has been a software developer for 10 years, specialising in Ruby on Rails development using Agile practices.

Calder designed built, and deployed an online application for Christchurch employers and employees to register for a subsidy following the February 22 earthquake. The brief was delivered on a Friday afternoon, and the application had to be deployed on the following Monday morning. Payments to successful applicants had to be in their bank accounts the next day.

• Tim Taylor, Senior Java Web Developer, Vero

Tim Taylor’s first computer was a ZX Spectrum, given to him at age six. The manual described BASIC commands, and so he taught himself programming with it. That was the foundation for 26 years of continuous learning. Taylor continued his studies all the way through to a double degree in both computer science and information systems at Victoria University.

He is currently a senior Java web developer for VTech, the technology division of the insurance company Vero, where he was a core team member on a development of Vero’s core insurance sales tool.

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