Police bullish on Wanganui Computer

The Police Department has denied reports that it would have to ask government for additional funding to make Wanganui Y2K-compliant. The department says it not only has enough money to upgrade its aging EDS mainframe, commonly referred to as the Wanganui Computer, but that it has almost completed work on Y2K compliance and hopes to be fully functional by July 1.

The Police Department not only has enough money to upgrade its aging EDS mainframe, commonly referred to as the Wanganui Computer, but the department says it has almost completed work on Y2K compliance and hopes to be fully functional by July 1.

Earlier reports indicated that police would have to ask government for additional funding to make Wanganui Y2K-compliant. The system was to have been scrapped at the end of 1999 when INCIS came online, but delays and cost overruns have meant "increment two" of INCIS has been delayed until some time in the year 2000. "Increment one" is being rolled at around the country to high-end users at the moment.

"We had an authority from Cabinet only on the basis of police staff employed on the project until the end of June. Now that will carry on we will potentially exceed the authority and will have to get further authority for additional money," Deputy Commissioner Barry Matthews said in January.

But now Police says the upgrade work is almost complete.

"The Ministry of Justice has lead an initiative for the justice sector and we're a major part of that because we're about the biggest user in that sector," says Police Y2K coordinator David Warner.

The other major player in the sector is Courts, and the cost of upgrading the system was "amicably split" between the two.

"We started at about the end of October and the project's going very well."

Currently, Courts is slightly ahead of the Police, but Warner is confident Police will catch up in the next few weeks.

"We got a little behind plan because it took us a while to get a suitable test manager on board but now we're pulling up." EDS, the systems integration firm which has been responsible for the upkeep of the Wanganui system, began work on Courts' modules before the Police's.

There is one area of concern for the new test manager and it came as something of a surprise.

"She's a bit concerned that they're going through without her finding any errors and that's a bit unusual." Warner comments, somewhat wryly, that discovering software is bug-free makes managers doubt their tests rather than praise their developers.

The speed of the project is partly due to its tight focus, says Warner. "It's purely and simply Y2K. They haven't tried to put in any bells and whistles which adds risk. They've been very good."

The testing programme uses either experienced serving police officers, with a high level of understanding about the system, or in some cases retired officers.

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