Natural disasters may not seem to have a connection with IT, but for Information Power they are another problem to be solved.
The Wellington-based company recently developed Readynet, a web-based emergency tool that stores and shares information about public and private institutions. The tool was awarded the Citizenship Solution of the Year award at Microsoft’s inaugural partner awards in September.
But this is just one area of the business. Managing director Shane Wood says the company focuses on solution technology, software and providing IP telephony services.
“We look after small to medium enterprises and government departments. As we’re a Microsoft gold partner, we have access to a wide stable of products. What makes us stand out is we have our own engineering and software development team, so people can come to us for a complete solution.”
Ward adds that Information Power has launched a home health management system.
“This is a support service that helps retirement village managers create core plans and helps care workers with timesheet plans. It’s time and cost effective.”
The company was founded in 1993 by Wood and Mark Drakeford.
Looking back, Wood says the biggest change in that time has been the development of cheap and efficient IT tools.
“We are really seeing the benefits of cost-effective applications such as Microsoft Access. New technology has also allowed our business to grow.”
The company has a staff of 17 that includes engineers, sales and office staff.
“Having a team of this size means we have a more robust partner focus,” says Ward.
“Employing engineers and software developers helps us to deploy the applications and they can help whenever there is a problem. There is no passing the buck to another company with Information Power, we’re committed to providing solutions to our customers.”
As a gold partner, the company has built up a range of skills in the Microsoft development arena ranging from .NET and SQL databases, through to Visual Basic as well as integrating with messaging using Outlook and other tools.
Turning to Readynet, he says the Neighbourhood Support network has adopted the tool nationally and Massey University campuses in Wellington, Palmerston North and Auckland have also signed up for the system.
Readynet works by assembling, storing and sharing emergency management information about schools, rest homes, hotels/motels and work places.
Information includes details of special needs people at the site or in the group, risk analysis, after-hours contact details, evacuation locations and service providers for the site.
Readynet information is shared with police call centres and the emergency operations centres of participating councils.
“We’re trying to make Readynet more self-managing, as once more organisations start using it having a central system will become less feasible.”
Being based in Wellington is perfect for the company, adds Wood. “We’re in the central business district, which is within walking distance to many of our Wellington clients and the government departments we deal with. This central location also means we can fly to our South Island clients easily and visit our partners in other cities.”
Information Power works with a number of partners. It supplies Acer and HP PCs and servers, along with Grisoft AVG antivirus protection and Sonicwall firewall and security solutions.
“We enjoy working with partners and all these offerings enhance our business.”
The company has recently started offering K2 workflow management software.
“This works with Microsoft Workflow and provides a range of tools for companies. It also gives people the ability to design and manage workflow programmes,” says Wood.
Eighteen months ago Hutt City council was the first local body organisation to trial and use Readynet.
The council’s emergency manager Paul Nickalls says many schools and neighbourhood support groups have been quick to register their details online via the Hutt Valley emergency preparedness network. In the event of an emergency, alerts are sent to groups via text message and email.
“Hutt City has made access to Readynet free. We used the early warning system recently for a heavy-rain warning in the Hutt Valley, where we had a hit rate of 400 percent to our web page after the alerts where sent out.”
Nickalls says Readynet is a valuable tool. “Not only is it good for the groups, but it helps me when planning emergency procedures as I can see which groups need extra help such as rest homes. We get updates to our council network every night, so if the site goes down I can still gain access to Readynet.”
Porirua is the only other local body using Readynet.
“All the other councils are waiting to see how we perform,” he says.