Sydney ferry service targets IT makeover

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Sydney ferry service targets IT makeover
Adam O'Halloran (Photo credit: Microsoft Australia)

Upgrades to Windows 8.

Sydney's public ferry operator will make "substantial changes" to its IT infrastructure over the next six months to improve communication between its 650 staff.

The project will see Harbour City Ferries — a joint venture between Transfield Services and Transdev — break away from the technology systems it inherited when it took over operation of public ferries in July 2012.

IT manager Adam O'Halloran said in a blog post that the first phase of the refresh saw the deployment of SharePoint Online, a service that sits within Microsoft's Office 365 platform, and an undisclosed number of smartphones running Windows Phone 8.

Though the smartphones are the new corporate standard, O'Halloran said the ferry operator has an existing "quasi-bring-your-own-device approach ... that allows employees to use their own personal devices to access their work emails".

The company currently runs an on-premises email environment in Exchange 2003 but plans to shift to Office 365 Exchange Online in the second phase of the refresh.

This phase also includes adoption of Lync Online, updated Active Directory and a mix of desktop, laptop and tablet computers for staff, running the Windows 8 operating system.

O'Halloran indicated that SharePoint would be the centrepiece — not only acting as an intranet but also a repository of operational data that the company plans on harvesting from its ferry fleet.

"We're currently in the process of implementing systems that record operational data, such as fuel usage, engine hours for each ferry, and regulatory maintenance activities," he said.

Staff would be able to consult the data stores and communicate with each other via a "social channel" embedded into the SharePoint platform.

It is hoped that the new level of engagement will lead to improvements in ferry operations.

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