Zircon Brings Together Services to Provide Continuous Support of Police Force Telematics System

Zircon Brings Together Services to Provide Continuous Support of Police Force Telematics System

Zircon Brings Together Services to Provide Continuous Support of Police Force Telematics System

Operating Systems: Widows Server (2012)
Languages: C#, HTML, XML, Python, F#, CSS, SQL, Borland Delphi
Methodologies: Object Oriented Design, UML, SCRUM, Test Driven Development, Model-view-view-model, Structured Analysis, Structured Design
Frameworks: Angular.JS, .Net Framework, ASP.NET, AKKA
Technologies: RabbitMQ, Hibernate, Redis
Comms/Networking: TCP/IP, TETRA, HTTPS
Configuration Management: Git, Azure DevOps (previously TFS)
Software Development Tools: Microsoft Visual Studio (2010, 2012, 2015), Visio, Resharper, Moq, xUnit
Databases: Microsoft SQL (2014, 2016), Relational Databases
Our client has developed several software products for use by the Defence and Emergency Service sectors. One of these products is a telematics and fleet management system that was developed to support the police force.

Facing the loss of a key resource in the support of this telematics system, our client began the process of finding a new third line support solution. After a series of discussions, Zircon was asked to fulfil this role and with agreement from our client, Zircon provided a mix of services, to include support, feature development and consultancy.

Mindful of our client’s relatively low experience with an outsourcing partner like Zircon, the Zircon team were careful to ensure that regular communication was maintained at all points throughout the project. Key stakeholders were involved in all sprint planning, review and retrospective meetings, as well as regular updates to ensure that they were aware of progress and the state of any features or fixes being worked on.

From our experiences of working on projects of this nature, we know how important the onboarding period is for our clients. The product is a complex system, based around a C# ASP.Net front end coupled to a Microsoft SQL Server database and a collection of back end services that utilise a wide variety of technologies such as RabbitMQ, NHibernate, Angular.JS and Redis. To make the transition as smooth as possible and gain valuable insight into the system, Zircon team members invested several days to work alongside our client’s existing product teams and to attend meetings with key stakeholders.

As an additional part of this onboarding process, we ensure that time is given to familiarise ourselves with our client’s configuration management and build process. This involves doing a build of the system before making any alterations, or with a very slight change and carrying out system and integration testing, reassuring both ourselves and our clients that their process documentation is as accurate as possible and that our team understands them.

With this insight, we were able to provide our client with reliable ongoing support, as well as provide them with assistance in developing their life-cycle and deployment processes.

One of the components of this system is an ETL toolset that allows for the transfer of large quantities of data from fleet vehicles. Over time the stored ETL processes had become interwoven, where various architectures had been built up on top of each other. This complex structure made maintaining the system challenging and lead to the appearance of bugs.

To clarify the actual structure of the interwoven architecture, Zircon engineers created a user manual of all the stored procedures in both picture and flow diagram form, accompanied by descriptions and code examples. Having this clarity upfront not only aided our ability to debug the system but also gave the client a helpful manual that would allow them to work on the system without our assistance.

Alongside our development work, we also offered our consultancy service to help our client find a solution to a few additional issues. For example, there is an expectation for police data records to be retained for several years, but the database where it was being stored had reached capacity and historical data was periodically extracted and placed elsewhere. In this instance we provided our client with advice on how to achieve continuous integration of the service while backups could continue to be taken.

We fulfilled this role for 18 months before our involvement was brought to an end when our client made the decision to end-of-life the product. In light of this decision, our client wanted to bring the support back in house for the final few months. To ease this transition, Zircon assisted in the handover process, offering training for our client’s team from our offices in Trowbridge.

For this project we were able to come in quickly, rapidly gain knowledge of the system and successfully provide the support service that they required. We worked closely with our client right from day one, building our relationship to a point where they could trust us to make suggestions to improve both their processes and their product.

Similar Projects

Lets Talk Software

Looking for a team to support your next software venture in Highways?  Zircon is there to help you ensure project success, contact the team today.

Zircon Works With End Users to Produce HMI for Integration into Newcastle GLOSA System

Zircon Works With End Users to Produce HMI for Integration into Newcastle GLOSA System

Zircon Works With End Users to Produce HMI for Integration into Newcastle GLOSA System

Operating Systems: Andriod 5 (Lollipop)
Languages: Java, JSON
Configuration Management: Git
Software Development Tools: Android Studio
Hardware: LG Smartphone
Newcastle City Council had been a part of an EU funded project to develop and deploy a Cooperative Intelligent Transport System (C-ITS). Following the conclusion of the project in December 2015, our client received additional funding to further extend the capabilities of the system.

The aim of the feasibility study was to demonstrate how Carbon Dioxide emissions produced by public transport vehicles (e.g. buses) could be lowered by allowing drivers to know the status of traffic signals in advance. The system was to be comprised of roadside units that control the traffic light system and On Board Units (OBU’s) that communicate with the roadside units as the vehicle passes by.

Part of the study required a number of vehicles to be equipped with Android based devices to act as a Human Machine Interface (HMI) between the driver and the OBU’s, to allow the messages regarding the status of traffic lights and road hazard warnings to be displayed visually and audibly in real-time.

Initially Zircon were given the responsibility of developing the HMI as an Android application capable of displaying information on either a tablet or mobile phone. In order to ensure that the presentation of the application would align with user expectations, Zircon undertook a series of workshops to get advice from the bus drivers on which of the HMI prototypes would be suitable. The outcome of these workshops was to keep the HMI as simple as possible, to reduce the risk of driver distraction.

The application provides a map of the local area that displays hazard events. Overlaid on this are images that will display messages regarding the status of traffic signals so that the drivers will be able to anticipate the state of the junction when they arrive there. The application is capable of informing the user either, what speed to approach the junction or other information, such as the length of time left until a light will change from red.

Whilst working on the HMI project, Zircon discovered that the client was experiencing difficulties with sourcing a supplier of the On Board Units that was capable of fulfilling their requirements. As we had an in depth understanding of the project and our client’s requirements, Zircon offered to source suitable off-the-shelf OBU hardware and provide the required additional functionality.

Working alongside the OBU supplier, Zircon made updates to the hardware’s client software so as to enable the provision of real-time GPS data for use by the HMI. In addition to this, Zircon made a number of enhancements to the OBU’s so that they would be capable of logging data remotely and enable the ability to update the software installed.

As a result of Zircon’s assistance our client not only had a product that was able to fulfil their needs, but also the peace of mind that there was a solution to a very troublesome problem.

Similar Projects

Lets Talk Software

Looking for a team to support your next software venture in Highways?  Zircon is there to help you ensure project success, contact the team today.

Feasibility Study into Monitoring Overhead Lines Aims to Avoid Expensive Equipment Failure

Feasibility Study into Monitoring Overhead Lines Aims to Avoid Expensive Equipment Failure

Feasibility Study into Monitoring Overhead Lines Aims to Avoid Expensive Equipment Failure

Languages:

Python

Technologies:

OpenCV

Configuration Management:

git

Other:

BS EN 50128

 

Zircons client provides manufacturers of passenger trains across the world with high quality CCTV systems. As part of a project where Zircon were assisting the client with the development of their next generation CCTV system, camera’s will be mounted to the roof of trains in order to provide real-time footage of the pantograph and overhead lines.

The part of the pantograph that makes direct contact with the overhead line is covered with a carbon shoe that conducts electricity whilst working as a form of lubricant. Due to the friction from continuous contact with the overhead lines this carbon covering wears down over time. In order to wear the surface down in an even fashion the line tracks across the pantograph from left to right in a zig zag motion.

The consequences of damage to the overhead line equipment are both expensive and far-reaching. In order to provide the end users of this new CCTV system with additional value, it was our clients desire to utilise this footage to monitor the pantograph/overhead line interface to quickly identify areas where the path of the cable is incorrect or arching is present.

In order to monitor the path of the overhead line across the pantograph Zircon carried out a feasibility study to identify the position of the point of intersection between the two surfaces in footage from the client’s camera. Upon locating the intersection, a record is made of its position, velocity and acceleration as the train travels along the track. If the software identifies that the position of the intersection has remained constant for longer than a predefined acceptable period or the velocity and/or acceleration exceeds the defined thresholds, the GPS position is recorded and an alert is raised.

Identifying occasions of arching was a simpler task. The sudden burst of light generated by the spark causes the camera to experience a sudden brightness overload, especially in darker environments, which can easily be identified by the software. As with the tracking of the overhead lines if the software detects arching the GPS position is recorded and an alert is registered. All of the alerts registered during a journey are processed upon the completion of the train’s journey and the relevant line maintainers are informed.

This system was successfully delivered to the client as part of the CCTV development project, and Zircon has subsequently provided the client with support services as they introduced and modified the system for new clients.

Similar Projects

Lets Talk Software

Looking for a team to support your next Rail software venture?  Zircon is there to help you ensure project success, contact the team today.