The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) will begin a two-month trial of 12 iPad 2 tablets with its executive team on Monday 5 September.
AMSA chief information officer, Ewan Perrin, told CIO Australia that the tablets will be used by management for document reading, on-road use and between meetings.
The second stage of the trial entails rolling out the iPad 2 to some of AMSA's ship safety inspectors later this year.
However, Perrin has taken a cautious approach to the tablet implementation.
“I’m not sure the iPad 2 is going to be the tablet of choice because of the constraints around USB sticks and some of the Windows applications that we hope to use on it,” he said.
In addition, he said the organisation may look at other tablet trials once the technology has matured.
“I’d rather be a fast second [adopter] than a first adopter, particularly in the government space,” Perrin said.
“I could have gone and bought a whole lot of HP [TouchPads] last week but maybe not.
“We are not in any rush to replace our desktops or notebooks. This is going to dabble in the space of mobility and bring your own [BYO] technology.”
AMSA currently uses Windows PC, along with a mix of Unix and Oracle Sun applications that run its critical operational systems.
Perrin added that the organisation considered a trial of Panasonic Toughbooks but did not proceed with the trial due to weight issues with the devices.
“They [Toughbooks] are tough and reliable, but they are a couple of kilos too heavy,” he said.
“Most of our ship inspectors are also carrying measurement instruments to look at gas levels and various gauges when they do safety checks.”
Based in Canberra, AMSA is a federal government regulatory safety agency tasked with delivering services for maritime safety, aviation, marine search and rescue and protection of the marine environment.
AMSA has operations in every state and territory across Australia and recruited Perrin in 2008 to manage its information services operations.
During the later half of 2010, AMSA implemented Funnelback's enterprise search offering to improve the ability to find records, documents and images.
According to Perrin, the search project gave AMSA greater access to a variety of collections and was a vast improvement on the "very clunky" content management system (CMS) product used in the past.
"The information was always there [in the system], it was just difficult to find,” he said.
AMSA uses Funnelback for two purposes: One is to find information quickly to help save people’s lives in the advent of a boating disaster, while the other purpose is to collect information such as forensics, ship safety records and lighthouse maintenance data.
"Because of the safety and regulatory role that we have at AMSA, that information needs to be precise and very accurate," Perrin said.
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