User benefits drive award finalists

If you thought the power, pharmaceutical, ports and public transport industries had little in common, you'd be wrong. Three such companies and one regional council have been selected as finalists in the Computerworld Excellence Awards.

If you thought the power, pharmaceutical, ports and public transport industries had little in common, you’d be wrong.

The three companies and one regional council were selected as finalists in the “Excellence in the use of IT for customer service” category of the Computerworld Excellence Awards, each for deploying systems and IT strategies intended to maximise benefits to their customers.

Wellington-based CentrePort’s entry centres on the Jade-based Chartts (cargo handling and real time tracking system) and Fastgate, its paperless cargo processing system which became operational about six months ago. Fastgate reduces the time truck drivers picking up cargo have to spend at the port.

For the drivers and companies importing the goods it’s significant, says Tom Livingston, the Jade developer and Unix and network administrator at CentrePort.

The paperwork replaced by Fastgate’s electronic workflow used to include Customs and MAF inspections as well as cargo owner and transport company documentation. Truck drivers can now get notification over the web of the status of containers and punch in a PIN number to go directly to the container, instead of waiting around the port, he says.

Chartts and Fastgate allow for electronic customer inquiries on matters such as cargo movement and whether the cargo is being inspected by the authorities.

Meanwhile, anyone who’s ever forgotten to take their medicine will see the benefits of pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline’s entry.

GlaxoSmithKline New Zealand has developed Pillminder, which sends alerts by email or text message to remind people to take their medication and the correct dose. Another service, Puffminder, reminds asthmatics to use their inhalers at the prescribed time.

At present, the antismoking drug Zyban is being provided via Pillminder and Flixotide asthma medication by Puffminder, says GlaxoSmithKline spokesman David Cartman. “We’re not actively marketing Pillminder and Puffminder at the moment, but people can find out about them and register on our website.”

GlaxoSmithKline customers can modify the service online as their needs change.

The Auckland Regional Council won a place on the finalist list for its Virtually thr project, which makes bus and train timetable and route information available over cellphones, using WAP-compliant technology.

Developed by a team under the leadership of ARC operations, information and technology project leader Lynne Booth, Virtually thr involves the integration into the WAP format of much data, including all of Auckland’s roads and bus stops, as well as timetables from all public transport operators in the region.

ARC CIO Tony Darby says 43% of the council’s electronic interactions with customers occur outside office hours and 23% between 8pm and 7am. Virtually thr extends the after-hours capability to 24x7 via text messaging with WAP, he says.

UnitedNetworks’ entry, LineLogix, is a system that allows the electricity network operator to communicate with its customers, power retailers, so they don’t get a flood of phone calls from end users when the power goes off. LineLogix is effectively two major products, says United marketing general manager Bryan Crawford. The first part is the messages sent to customers about power outages, whether planned, for maintenance, or unplanned. The other side of LineLogix is that it allows field crews fixing outages to send in updates on the situation via handheld devices.

The messaging service works off United’s own telemetry and automatically connects a recorded message to the power retailer’s call centre, so concerned customers can confirm that it’s known that there has been an outage and find out when the power will be on again. “People also like to know the cause, so we include that,” says Crawford. Confirmation, reconnection time and cause are the three pieces of information that keep 85% to 90% of end-users satisfied, he says.

The message can be customised for email, web and cellphone updates.

LineLogix is based on software from Auckland-based TVD (Telephony Video Data) and was implemented by UtilityAP. Crawford says it has been “heavily customised” for use by United.

The Computerworld Excellence Awards will be presented in Auckland on June 28.

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