Wireless on IT's 2002 agenda

Getting on with core business, as well as some wireless initiatives, are the main projects IT managers appear to be lining up for the new year.

Getting on with core business, as well as some wireless initiatives, are the main projects IT managers appear to be lining up for the new year.

Auckland City Council’s key activity in 2002 will be replacing its main local government system, which handles activities such as rates and dog control. The current system has been in use since 1989, so it’s an IT upgrade that also represents an opportunity to improve business processes, says the council’s head of IT and communications, Ian Rae.

“Obviously in looking at a replacement system we need to take into account the integration between front and back office. We have to take into account a customer call centre and the internet. We want to provide the public with opportunities for self-service.”

The council expects to be seeking proposals from potential suppliers around the middle of next year. Rae says the council will also continue to move along its “e-roadmap” in line with central government’s strategy for getting services online.

Broadcaster TVNZ will kick off its new year with the gradual rollout of its digital newsroom. IT manager Neil Andrew says the broadcaster has combined its broadcast engineering and IT services and digital media asset management will be on the radar screen for 2002.

The newsroom will see satellite and web-based news feeds, as well as digital tape from cameras in the field brought back to a workstation where it can be indexed and placed on a server. That means reporters and editors will be able to share news resources whereas at present they have to dub tapes if more than one person needs the same content. The digital newsroom will be rolled out programme by programme throughout January, February and March.

Auckland Regional Council has WAP plans, says IT manager Tony Darby.

The council will start delivering public transport schedules from the Rideline website to cellphones via short-message and WAP services. The council has been testing the system and will roll it out to the public early next year.

Another project will be the evaluation of satellite digital imagery to take the place of aerial photography to analyse traffic congestion or building growth in the region. He says aerial photography is highly dependent on weather and it’s hoped satellite imaging will be easier to use.

Wireless communication is also high on the agenda for travel reservation operator Galileo, says New Zealand services manager Athil Narayan.

Travel agents using Galileo’s reservation system currently use Telecom’s DSL fast internet service to access a virtual private network, which connects them to the company’s mainframe reservation system in Denver. However, because Telecom can’t provide service-level guarantees for DSL, Galileo is looking to provide agents an alternative means of access using wireless links through Walker Wireless.

It will also launch WAP-based services aimed at business travellers. Galileo has been working with Vodafone on an Auckland-based pilot offering corporate customers of two travel agencies the ability to make bookings, check itineraries and receive news of flight delays. Next year Galileo wants to make the service available to all travel agents specialising in the corporate travel market.

Meanwhile, the defence force is embarking on a nationwide storage project rollout that will centralise the storage nodes of the army, navy and airforce, says Army national LAN manager Richard Hitchcock.

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