Stories by Sim Ahmed

A clear view

Quality control defines many businesses. The ability to follow a standard set of procedures to manufacture consistent and quality products means the difference between life and death for safety equipment manufacturer PSL, and this stark reality has seen it move its business process documentation online to streamline and simplify it for its workers.
Auckland-based PSL manufactures and sells protective equipment used by fire and safety organisations throughout New Zealand and the Pacific, including the New Zealand Fire Service.

Written by Sim Ahmed29 April 12 22:00

Competition leads to MyBank app at TSB

What started out as an internal competition has resulted in the launch of a brand new app for TSB Bank.
Yesterday the bank launched its MyBank app for iPhones. The free application lets customers manage their accounts and make payments through their smartphones.

Written by Sim Ahmed23 April 12 22:00

Catching the moment

With over 400,000 employees in around 170 countries, the future for IBM will depend on how well it can enable communication and collaboration within its own business units, says CIO Jeanette Horran.
“Technology that enables collaboration flattens the organisational structure. That might seem scary at first, but what it really means is an increased efficiency at which information travels from one end of the organisational chart to the other,” says Horran.

Written by Sim Ahmed18 April 12 22:00

NZ King Salmon takes $100m business to the cloud

For one of New Zealand's largest produce exporters, the best way to describe the cloud is as a toll road: You pay for what you use and others are responsible for maintaining it.
Simon Gutschlag, IT manager at New Zealand King Salmon, told the audience at IDC’s recent Cloud for Business conference that the company moved its infrastructure to reduce costs spent on maintaining internal infrastructure.

Written by Sim Ahmed11 April 12 22:00

Frucor gets cloudy

Paul Miller, CIO of Frucor, says moving to the cloud has been about refocusing to core business goals, and on some level, securing his desired career path.
Frucor is the Pepsi bottler for New Zealand, and the producer of the V line of energy drinks. The Auckland based company has 900 staff around the world, with 600 based in New Zealand.

Written by Sim Ahmed09 April 12 22:00

Tait gets go ahead to sell radio equipment to Mississippi

Tait Communications has been given the green light to sell its communication equipment to government agencies in Mississippi by the state’s government.
State agencies such as the National Guard, Highway Safety Patrol, and Department of Corrections will be able to purchase radio equipment from the Christchurch-based manufacturer.
Tait will be selling its P25-compatible digital portable and mobile radios, and public safety applications.
P25 is a suite of open interoperable digital radio standards commonly used in North America by law enforcement agencies. In 2009 it was adopted by the New Zealand Police.
Before recieving approval to sell to the state, Tait needed to show its P25 technology would work on Mississippi's Wireless Information Network which runs on the 700 Mhz spectrum, and is currently used by around 9,100 public safety and government workers.
Tait says it was officially recognised by the US Federal Government after several months of testing at the company’s American labratory in Houston, Texas.
A spokesperson for the company says being accepted by the Mississippi government shows neighbouring agencies the viability of using Tait products in the US.
Frank Owen, managing director of Tait, says the US is an important export market, which has seen growth in the last couple of years.
“We have seen strong growth in the last two years in the US and approximately 30 percent of our export demand is from the Americas,” says Owen.
In September last year, Tait became the first additional radio equipment manufacturer able to supply the New South Wales government.
Tait says the company has not sold any devices to Mississippi yet.

Written by Sim Ahmed09 April 12 22:00

Crown Fibre considers using Google Earth Builder

Representatives from New Zealand power companies, local government agencies, and other infrastructure providers attended a breakfast event held by Fronde yesterday to hear about Google Maps and Earth for enterprise, and in particular its Earth Builder tool.
Phil Campbell, planning director at Crown Fibre Holdings, says the company is investigating using Earth Builder to display UFB availability and construction information to the public.
“Imagery is quite important to us,” he says.
“Ultimately, once the deployment plans have been locked down this information will go onto the web. People will be able to say ‘I live at X, when am I getting fibre?’ and it will show it to them.”
Campbell says Crown Fibre is already using Google’s Maps and Earth, in conjunction with other geographic information systems (GIS) internally to map UFB installations across New Zealand.
“We do a lot of our geospatial querying on Esri. We use Google Earth to map that data against demand models, and let end users zoom in,” says Campbell.
Speaking at the event was James Bangay, general manager at Ergon Energy in Australia.
Bangay says Ergon uses Earth Builder to accurately map its infrastructure assets across an area of 1.7 million square kilometres in Queensland, and some parts of South East Asia.
Bangay is in charge of Ergon’s Remote Observation Automated Modelling Economic Simulation (ROAMES) programme.
As a part of the programme, specially modified light aircraft have been flying over Queensland at an altitude of 500 metres, taking photos and heat readings of Ergon’s power system.
This data is combined with Google Maps data, and consolidated into existing asset data in Ergon’s Ellipse ERP system.
Using the combination of ROAMES and Earth Builder, Bangay says Ergon is able to predict environmental conditions near its assets in the power grid.
“Our main challenge is sparsity. We have about the same number of customers as Vector does in New Zealand, but spread across 1.7 million square kilometres,” says Bangay.
Before implementing the Google mapping technology, Bangay says the company would need to send field technicians multiple times to a location to verify its safety before work could begin.
Ergon spends around $100 million alone every year cutting away trees from power lines, according the Bangay. He says he expects 25 percent of this cost to be reduced as Ergon uses ROAMES to predict foliage growth and plan preemptive arboreal work for its technicians when they are at a remote location to justify travel costs.
The system comes with its caveats, says Bangay, some of which arise from limitations in Google's systems.
“Our system is accurate to the nearest centimetre, but the powerline sag isn’t always modelled accurately. Google has positioned its Streetview bubbles inaccurately,” says Bangay.
“Google drives around with these cheap cars taking photos of the street. Their intention wasn’t to pinpoint power lines to centimetre accuracy, their intention was to put labels in front of shops.
“This is a conversation we’re continuing to have with Google.”
Bangay says an unexpected issue with the ROAMES project was the vast amount of data produced from the aerial photography, two tonnes of data disks are used for every two weeks of surveying according to him.

Written by Sim Ahmed04 April 12 22:00

Conquering Big Data by stream computing

There is big data, and then there is mind-bogglingly enormous data; the latter is the scale at which Mahmoud Mahmoud has been focusing his research on for the last three years. And he says his work will be a “paradigm shift” in the way businesses use big data in the future.
The AUT University computer scientist has been teaching on and off for the better part of a decade, and is currently working on finishing his doctorate. He originally came to New Zealand in 1994, from Kuwait where he was raised and educated.

Written by Sim Ahmed02 April 12 22:00

Innovation centre gets new tenant in Nextspace

The first tenant for Auckland's new 'innovation centre' in Wynyard Quarter, Nextspace, moved in last night.
Speaking at the opening event last night which attracted around 150 people, the prime minister's chief science advisor, Peter Gluckman, said that the innovation centre was a good starting point, but support from the business community and government is needed to fully realise the precinct's potential.

Written by Sim Ahmed20 March 12 23:00

Business continuity a top challenge for New Zealand CIOs

The Christchurch earthquakes have made business continuity the most significant challenge for New Zealand CIOs in the coming year, says a new report.
According to Fujitsu’s inaugural Trends in Technology Report for New Zealand, 13.5 percent of CIOs say business continuity is their top challenge, with a further 37.8 saying it is a major challenge for their businesses.

Written by Sim Ahmed06 March 12 22:00

Orcon's UFB services announced, includes 1 TB plan

Orcon has revealed details for its retail ultra-fast broadband plans and services for New Zealand residential and business users.
The state-owned ISP is the first to make public its pricing for fibre based internet plans.

Written by Sim Ahmed05 March 12 22:00

NZ charities urged to do more for less using technology

The lack of investment in technology by non-government organisations (NGOs) is inhibiting them from reaching their full potential, says Tina Reid, executive director of Social Development Partners.

Written by Sim Ahmed03 March 12 22:00

Hactivists lead cause of grief to network engineers

‘Hacktivists’ are shaking up IT workers around the world with the possibility of idealogically motivated distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on their network infrastructure.

Written by Sim Ahmed28 Feb. 12 22:00

Philippines call centre won't take Kiwi jobs: Orcon

No New Zealanders will lose their jobs as a result of Orcon opening a new call centre in the Philippines, says CEO Scott Bartlett.
“There are absolutely no roles being removed from our business as a result of this call centre,” says Bartlett.

Written by Sim Ahmed14 Feb. 12 22:00

Oxygen IT breathes life into Christchurch backups

It was by sheer coincidence that Stace Hema and his team were out working on other locations at 12:51pm when the quake struck, instead of the CTV building where over 100 people lost their lives.

Written by Sim Ahmed12 Feb. 12 22:00