When profit's not the only goal

The technology used to make carers.net.nz an invaluable resource for carers includes downloadable tools to assist those caring for the sick and disabled.

The technology used to make carersnetnz an invaluable resource for carers includes downloadable tools to assist those caring for the sick and disabled, click-throughs to other sources of help and other developments, to go live this year, that will utilise the arrival of broadband to regional areas under the government's Project Probe initiative.

These include internet radio with archived interviews on relevant topics, virtual online meet-ups for carers and virtual consultation forms to allow carers to take part in government policy and processes without travelling. A library of print-on-demand PDF files of relevant information is also to come.

Carersnetnz is the website of Carers New Zealand, a charitable trust that provides information, advocacy and support to caregivers who look after a sick, frail, disabled or injured family member.

The site, which was launched in 2002, is much more that just a site providing static information; Carers NZ describes the site, which is hosted by Palmerston North ISP Inspire, as an online information channel.

The technology behind carersnetnz is a content management system from Webmate, customised for carersnetnz. The site is to migrate to a new platform and content management system this year.

Carersnetnz is one of four finalists in the not-for-profit category of the Computerworld Excellence Awards, along with CCS (formerly the Crippled Children's Society), the Royal NZ Plunket Society and the Horowhenua Library Trust.

CCS's entry showcases its mobility parking scheme, an update of its system of allocating and authenticating disabled car parks.

Under the old system a CCS client's GP would write a note saying the client needed a disabled park. The client would then register with CCS and parking wardens checking the legitimacy of cars in disabled spaces would call back to their office where staff would manually check whether the car was meant to be there.

The new system, built by Auckland software developer Augen, allows parking wardens to radio back to council offices, where staff can check via the new, web-based system, Mapp (Mobility Accessible Parking Portal). Mapp allows access to real-time information, rather than data that may have been up to two months out of date under the old system.

The new system also has potential for use via wireless devices.

Mapp was developed in a Microsoft environment and clients' privacy is protected by 128-bit encryption.

The Plunket Society's entry is about its PCIS (Plunket Client Information System), which provides it with information about its service delivery to children from birth to age five.

PCIS enables the collection, capture, transfer, validation, storage, reporting and analysis of that service delivery so Plunket can share the data with approved external systems.

Before PCIS was implemented Plunket relied on handwritten health records, though one of the strongest impetus for getting an electronic system was the Health Ministry's CHIS (child health information strategy). Plunket worked closely with the ministry on developing PCIS and the ministry's National Health Index project, completed in 2002, provided a foundation for it.

PCIS, which went fully live in 2003, means data can now be viewed from an individual, Plunket location, Plunket area, district health board or national level and be broken down into deprivation, assessed needs, ethnicity and age groupings.

Reports can be made on individual caseloads, productivity, team productivity and to identify individuals who need extra services or have missed a service for which they are entitled. The data will provide access to information in areas such as access to Plunket services and breastfeeding and immunisation trends.

Technology providers for PCIS include Jade, whose language was used in developing the system. It runs on Windows 2000, with web-based access for authorised users.

Files are scanned by Datamail, while geo-coding of client information is done via Critchlows Associates' GeoStan software and PCIS interfaces with Counties Manukau District Health Board via the DHB-hosted Kidslink system.

Horowhenua Library Trust's entry is for Koha, what the trust says is the world's first open source library management software system.

With the year 2000 and its associated problems looming, the trust looked for a package to replace its non-Y2K compliant, more than a decade-old system. It failed to find a satisfactory one until Wellington developer Katipo Communications offered to write one for it and release it as an open source application.

Koha was subsequently made publicly available in January 2000. By June a lot of the bugs were ironed out and the trust felt it was time to announce Koha to the world.

A second version of Koha was recently released; new features include password sign-on, catalogue checking, book reservation and change of address notification.

Some historical photographs, not owned by the library but known of by users, have been made accessible online. Koha II integrates seamlessly with the national library organisation's site.

Koha has been translated into French, German, Spanish and several other languages. Some school libraries in North America are using Koha and contributing code back to the main programme.

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