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Excellence in IT Awards winners named

Simon Eskow
Thu, 16 Oct 2014

The inaugural Excellence in IT Awards winners were named at a gala event last Friday in Auckland. The black tie evening, organised by the Institute of IT Professinals NZ (IITP) capped off the first ITx, New Zealand's conference of IT.

Several hundred IT professionals gathered for the event, MC'd by comedian Jeremy Corbett (a programmer in a former life).

Organisers received 100 nominations for awards in five general sectors plus one supreme award. 15 judges narrowing the field to 24 finalists across the awards.

The winners of this year's Excellence in IT awards are as follows:

Internet Entrepreneur of the Year: Craig Smith, Education Perfect
Craig Smith was still in high school when he developed his online self-study aid, Language Perfect in 2003.

Smith took that idea and four years later joined forces with his brother, Shane, and their friend, Scott Cardwell, to launch Education Perfect, which today is one of the most?used educational websites on the planet, and home to one of the largest global online language competitions.

Education Perfect is designed to teach pupils simple concepts across many subjects, including maths, science, history, English, biology, accounting and enterprise, and this year, has helped students answer more than 500 million questions from 300,000 students.

After being launched on the back of an NBR Audacious Award win in 2007, Education Perfect has grown from three employees to a staff of 30, aiming to provide the software support its founders see lacking in online curricula.

IT Project Excellence Award: Ospri Insite Team

Excellence in Software: Ospri Animal Disease Management System
OSPRI was successful in both the Project Excellence and Software categories.

The OSPRI Insite Project team developed new collaborative working methods to deliver a product that raises the bar for animal health.

OSPRI New Zealand helps to protect New Zealand's reputation as a leading producer of primary produce for the local and international market, and its TBfree programme is a vitally important part of its work. OSPRI ensures that cattle and deer for over 75,000 herd owners are tested for Bovine Tuberculosis. Testing for TB can be fraught with uncertainty, so OSPRI needed a new approach when upgrading its Animal Disease Management System to help manage its TB testing process.

Not only did the system need to cope with 'ifs', 'buts' and 'maybes' thrown up by inherent variables, it also needed to support an end-to-end process that combined system logic and decisions made by the vets, based on in-field variables, and it needed to be accessible and intuitive to a wide range of users.

OSPRI's leadership group assembled an expert in-house IT team, including contractors, who would self-organise, self-manage and ultimately be responsible for the project's success. The team came up with the idea of working in small groups to pick-off specific tasks, "huddles" that would quickly form to devise a solution, then disperse again, ready to re-form and tackle the next task.

The result has turned out an effective tool with interactive maps integrated with a new UI, and a system that puts everything the user needs at their fingertips. The end-to-end functionality and intuitive operation means that users can create documents from templates, and store them against a particular herd, and view, edit, print and email these documents from within the application.

Excellence in Health Informatics: Susan Miles, Canterbury District Health Board
Susan Miles from Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) was recognized for her outstanding leadership and tireless efforts towards advocating and orchestrating the adoption of eProsafe electronic Child Protection and Family Violence web application.

Miles saw the need to improve on cross-DHB information sharing and to develop a system to help ensure collection of valuable information for the Child Protection/ Family Violence area.

Her commitment to launch and implement eProsafe has led to its successful deployment in West Coast District Health Board, South Canterbury District Health Board and Nelson Marlborough District Health Board. Recently, another milestone has been achieved by having the Southern District Health Board agreeing to adopt eProsafe by the end of 2014.

Miles has also presented about eProsafe in HINZ campaign late last year, and through the course of the project, occasionally used personal funds and time to evangelize for the system.

Excellence in IT Education: Dr Tim Bell, University of Canterbury
Professor Tim Bell at the University of Canterbury has held positions of Deputy Head of Department and Head of Department in Computer Science, and has worked for many years to develop resources that can be used by teachers and parents to get increase youth interest in Computer Science.

He initiated and developed the CS Unplugged project which has grown and is now being used all around the world to teach the concepts of Computer Science to all ages without the use of computers.

Bell was also a key contributor to the Digital Technologies Achievement Standards and has contributed substantially and widely to the detail work of creating curriculum standards.

Since the creation of the standards, Tim has been extremely effective in dealing with the issue of up-skilling and professional development for teachers in Computer Science and Programming strands.

As an all around champion for computer science education, he was involved with developiung online resources for teaching Computer Science to students, and creating and running the CS4HS (Computer Science for High School) symposium conferences for teachers in Wellington and Christchurch.

The IITP President's Award for Contribution to the IT Profession also went to Tim Bell for his work over several years introducing young people to computer science, and helping usher through the changes to the IT curriculum in schools.

Excellence in Public Sector IT: Dept of Internal Affairs Passport Redevelopment Project
The Department of Internal Affairs sought to implement an extensive transformation in the New Zealand passport application, renewal and delivery system, the first such project since 1993.

With Hewlett Packard selected in a RFP process in 2008 to head the system integration, Internal Affairs has been able to improve programme management, migrate processes and systems with minimal impact on the service--affecting 300 staff in three countries--and integrate leading edge technology to allow for better security protocols, including proven face recognition technology.

The programme has seen the successful rollouts of new passport application forms and automated document scanning technologies in 2010; a new core passport interface (KIWI) in mid 2012 to enable more effective enrolment, assessment and approval of passport applications; functional releases within the KIWI system throughout 2013, including a fully electronic workflow business process for passport applications; an Online Renewals Service for Adults to renew their passport online in November 2012; and an Online Photo Checker launched early this year.

The redevelopment project was delivered in time and $1.7 million under the original budget estimates, and in the long term it is on track to deliver projected savings of $93.3 million over 10 years, with 94 per cent of staff saying they felt supported through the massive changes involved. The ongoing benefits will be a scalable service to meet demand, with more enhancements to the online photo checker (to check an applicant's photo is acceptable, before they embark on the online renewal process), with a service rated at the very top of all services in the Kiwis Count state sector survey, delivering a passport service rated as secure by international partners, an essential element in visa-free access, and trust in the identity of individual New Zealanders.

Young IT Professional of the Year: Tanya Gray, Gather Workshops
Tanya Gray has made Gather Workshops her life-focus since leaving her software development job in February 2014.

As the lead presenter for the Gather Workshops team, Gray is on a mission to put computer programming into the heart of secondary school education. Her current challenge is to bring all of Gather Workshops' course material in line with NCEA standards, so teachers can deliver its resources as part of their classroom teaching time.

Gray has led the development of Gather Workshop's open source materials, with the addition of new topics, and the updating of existing materials. Gray helped launch the Gather's Code Club for Teachers Google Group, which assigns member educators coding missions, with discussions on how to use the problems with their students in class. Code Club for Teachers launched in July and already has more than 80 members.

Gray is also working with a global organisation that gets young women into programming with Ruby on Rails, and she has co-founded a Game of Codes team-based competition at local bars to make programming more accessible and fun.

IT Professional of the Year: Gareth Berry, Unleashed Software
Gareth Berry trod an atypical path to become one of Unleashed Software's big success stories in recent years. Berry moved from head of sales at Unleashed to become the company's CEO in 2010, and has since raised the company's profile and strength by forging partnerships with key software vendors, expanding to global markets, and developing a scalable, web-based version of the company's inventory management software.

Berry's enthusiasm for inventory management and his vision of the future of this field has helped drive the business to grow to thousands of customers in 80 countries. Berry has driven integration of his company's software with that of companies such as Xero, GeoOp and Vend, to provide a seamless, adaptable capability to his clients.

Berry's experience in sales has allowed for the company to grow with corporate resale deals, and online campaigns, while encouraging internal talent with incentives to people that play key roles in the business. The Unleashed product set has benefited from Berry's ability to retain and encourage technical staff.

Simon Eskow
Thu, 16 Oct 2014
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Excellence in IT Awards winners named