The challenge – massive, immediate expansion
Consider the scale of transformation. The IT had to be seamless, and all systems go! Election Services do this roughly once every three years for large scale elections and referendums, and BTG have managed the IT for the last three of these initiatives. These include the 2009 anti-smacking referendum, and 2010 and 2013 local elections.
We talked with Judith, Dale and Craig from Election Services about executing this incredibly challenging transition with the help of BTG…
“We are responsible for conducting local government elections for a number of councils – about 15, a number of district health boards and licencing trusts. We are responsible for about 48% of the electors in NZ”, – Dale Ofsoske, Managing Director of Election Services.
They really needed our technical expertise to deliver a solution that met council standards for security. Due to the nature of such a project, the set up was temporary and lasted for about 8 months and “then we demolished everything”.
“We do all the relocation. The move from the small office to the temporary big office, push a whole lot of infrastructure into their system. They lease Infrastructure as a Service, and we configure it all up. We make sure that the solution and the technology that we’ve deployed assists with making sure that they are compliant”, – Steve Harris, BTG CEO.
“When BTG move us, we have to hit the ground running, and we can’t have any downtime, because it’s so busy. We shut off the computers 5pm on a Friday, we move over the weekend, and they have us (the standard office) up and ready for Monday morning.” – Judith
Following from the BTG team set up a test area with infrastructure that’s reduced in size, to make sure the software and processes are working.
The BTG Solution – the works and fast
BTG provides on premise IaaS including lease equipment, in addition to:
- Managing all physical infrastructure, support systems, and help support systems running ES software – EMS, scanning software, and Kofax (optical recognition software);
- VoIP telecommunications provided by BTG’s telephony solution, which is used both for the office system and within the call centre;
- Setting up the entire call centre using the above solution via a soft phone(ES go from 10’s of calls per day to 1000’s), which also acted as a service desk for councils that didn’t utilise the Auckland processing centre;
- Technical expertise to configure and manage the entire process.
“With any voting there are principles and legislative guidelines that we have to follow, eg. secrecy of the vote. So we deliberately do not, for example, have our processing centre linked to the internet whatsoever. It’s like a ‘hand on heart’ where we can say to the public, ‘no-one can access this or hack this and tamper with the results’. That’s pretty important.” – Dale.
“The other critical thing is, of course, that it all works. When you are running an election, there are critical dates, the most important being election date. Come close of voting, we push the button and everything has to work. Otherwise, we would not be in this business.”
Implementation – All About The Team
The Election Services team is close knit, and value the importance of having trusted, personable, and approachable partners to work alongside them.
Craig Warne, Business Development Manager for Election Services valued Sid, a BTG Project Manager whose role is dedicated to ES. It made for seamless planning. ES evolved the plan from time to time, and BTG just rolled with it.
“When it comes to these projects, when something needs doing, we just do whatever it takes to get it done! They’ve really been on board with that. They seem to have the same philosophy.” – Craig.
“We are committed to what we do. They are committed to what we are doing as much as we are.” – Judith.
Dale adds, “For example, Richard [a BTG engineer] was there on election day right up to, was it 1 or 2am and then back again at 7am, because we had a need.” – Dale
“Very personable. Very polite. We took our staff out to dinner to say thank you, and we included Sid and Richard (and their wives), because they were part of our team.”