Surf lifesavers turn to IT for business efficiency

IT automation keyed a priority in "save time, save lives" approach

Surf Lifesaving Australia (SLSA) has begun the process of implementing a new IT system in a bid to make business processes more efficient.

By saving time through IT, SLSA believes it will be able to save lives easier.

SLSA chief executive officer, Brett Williamson, said the project is a “must-have”, benefiting SLSA’s 155,000 national members, staff, volunteers (approximately 5,000) and beachgoers by making data entry and member communication processes more automated and user-friendly.

The project, a result of the $4.4 million grant SLSA received from the Department of Health and Ageing in June 2009, will be rolled out in three phases and is estimated to be completed by the end of June 2012.

The first phase was completed by the end of July this year and involved the creation of a Central Operating Data Store (CODS).

Accessible to around 200 SLSA users, DB2 database is hosted by Fujitsu Infrastructure cloud solution, and contains a centralised set of data from previously existing systems.

According to SLSA’s national IT manager, Gary Daly, this will be the first time the organisation will be able to store all its information on a single dataset, allowing for a single “source of truth” by reducing duplication.

“This will form the foundation for future new IT systems,” Daly said. “Reports can be generated from this database by all levels of the organisation.”

As a part of phase one, SLSA has also implemented Microsoft reporting software accessible by approximately 200 SLS users from a single source, with the aim to improving access to reliable and accurate information about beach incidents and statistics.

Phase two of the project began this month and will run until the third quarter of 2011, creating a “one stop shop” online portal which will see all members given access to the information relevant to them.

According to Daly, the portal will eventually contain a single sign on, an information and document library, contacts of organisations, access to old and new applications, news, blogs, events, a calendar as well as the user’s own personal information that can be updated.

“The portal will also cater for our junior members (nippers) as it will have games and education functions,” Daly said.

SLSA outsourced development of the portal to WebSphere, with hosting by Fujitsu in a private cloud.

The third and final phase is scheduled to start in 2011, running until end of June 2012, and will involve the assessment of systems and processes that currently manage members, incidents, beaches and evaluating what can be integrated into the CODS and what needs to be improved or replaced.

To support the rollout of the technology, SLSA has launched a website with the purpose of providing information, answering questions and to receive feedback about the IT system.

By implementing the system, the organisation anticipates it will save around 4000 hours of administrative work each week.

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