Excellence Awards: Govt projects in positive light

The all-of-government portal, the online front door to New Zealand's state sector, is one of four public projects vying for recognition in this year's Computerworld Excellence Awards.

The all-of-government portal, the online front door to New Zealand’s state sector, is one of four public projects vying for recognition in this year’s Computerworld Excellence Awards.

The State Services Commission e-government unit is responsible for creation of the $5.6 million portal, which unit head Brendan Boyle says ues a mixture of "world-class" technologies, both open source and proprietary.

"From the user perspective, the portal means you can easily find what you need, without having to know which agency provides the service. That's a real timesaver," Boyle says.

Low bandwidth and disabled users are catered for in the portal’s design, and adoption of the portal as a means of accessing government information is proving a money-saver for agencies, Boyle says. In four months since its launch last November, more than 313,000 visitors have used the site, which is hosted by Datacom on server clusters in Auckland and Wellington.

The Ministry of Economic Development's Personal Property Securities Register, launched in May last year, is claimed to be a rarity among IT projects, costing 10% less than its budgeted cost. It is another awards finalist.

It has been hailed by the New Zealand Law Society as "the most significant change to commercial law in a practising lifetime".

The J2EE-based register uses an Oracle database and is claimed to be New Zealand's first fully electronic register. By offering a single accessible register for security interests in property other than land, the site also aims to "create greater certainty in business transactions".

Financial Services Federation exective sectretary Justin Kerr admits the site is “not sexy" nor well-known, but says it's "absolutely crucial to anybody involved in lending money".

Te Keti Ipurangi, an online Ministry of Education tool for teachers, is the award’s third finalist.

The bilingual site contains curriculum content and lesson plans, says the ministry's ICT unit manager of the teaching and learning division, Murray Brown.

By providing teachers with quick access to information, the ministry hopes they will be better prepared, raising educational standards. Brown feels that is happening already.

The Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences’ GeoNet project is the last of the four finalists, and it has the goal of giving a greater understanding of earthquakes. Project data is not only available to the scientific community, but the general public can see it too here.

The institute recently upgraded its network of earth monitoring devices from a "precarious" system with standalone recording that had little or no telemetry, to a "world-class" system based on TCP/IP communications spread throughout New Zealand.

"The new stations have much more high quality data than was available before. We can even look at other earthquakes from around the world," says geophysicist Martha Savage.

GeoNet’s better quality information may not immediately provide a means of predicting quakes, but it will improve our understanding of where they came from, Savage says.

  • The "excellence in the use of IT in government" category of the awards is sponsored by Unisys.

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