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.

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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.

Early Fault Identification with Software for Remote Condition Monitoring

Early Fault Identification with Software for Remote Condition Monitoring

Early Fault Identification with Software for Remote Condition Monitoring Of Track Circuits

Operating Systems: Windows (8)
Languages: C#.NET
Frameworks: .NET4, WPF
Databases: SQL Server
Zircon was approached by London Underground to help develop a monitoring system to allow them to assess the status of track circuits on the Victoria Line which would frequently fail without any warning, and lead to high levels of lost customer hours.

The work was part of an ongoing improvement program for this line and our client wanted to be able to detect failures before they happened. Zircon was tasked to develop a software package that would retrieve data from a database, provided by the client, and present it in real time on a touch screen display in the control room.

The majority of this project revolved around the development of the front end Graphical User Interface (GUI) and the back end server solution to work alongside it. The GUI was designed so that it colour codes each track circuit according to their operational status, this allows our clients engineers to identify which circuits have begun to drift away from normal operating conditions.

Once a potential issue is identified, engineers are able to view current and historical conditions for that circuit plotted together in graphical format. Not only does this allow for quick fault diagnosis but also early identification of failing equipment.

In order to provide our client with support for the entire project lifecycle, Zircon generated a system level test specification for the GUI and server side application. We also provided our client with technical on site software support for factory acceptance and line acceptance testing, as well as assisting the client with the documentation and assurance activities associated with the GUI software.

The new system has since been approved and implemented; our clients were more than satisfied with the service provided by Zircon and are hopeful that the level of lost customer hours will see a significant reduction.

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Prototype Web-Based System Aims to Display Traffic Information to the Public

Prototype Web-Based System Aims to Display Traffic Information to the Public

Prototype Web-Based System Aims to Display Traffic Information to the Public

Operating Systems: Windows
Frameworks: ASP.NET
Technologies: AJAX
Databases: Microsoft SQL Server
As a long trusted partner of the Highways Agency, Zircon’s client have helped to deliver a number of improvement projects on the major road network in England. One of these many improvement projects required the development of a web based solution that was capable of displaying regional traffic information in an easy to read format.

Our client had been appointed the responsibility of managing the process to develop the desired solution; however, they lacked the capability to perform software development activities internally. Through communication with the client, Zircon proved that they could provide the skills and knowledge to fulfil this role and help to alleviate some of the pressure on the client’s shoulders.

The prototype developed by Zircon displays traffic information on schematic diagrams of the motorway and trunk road network via a standard web browser. The network is divided into several nodes and links, which allow users to view more detailed information on specific sections of road.

Planned incidents, such as diversions or roadworks, are displayed as icons whilst speed and journey time information is conveyed through colouring the links to reflect the comparison of incoming data against user defined thresholds. By using this method areas where journey time is out of character for that location and time of day, which will more than likely be an unplanned incident such as a collision, will be highlighted and can be addressed appropriately.

The information used to populate the generated maps was to be sourced from National Control Centre data feeds. In order to obtain this information Zircon developed a Windows service that would download information from the data feeds to be configured into a format suitable for displaying over ASPX pages.

Upon completion of the prototype development, the solution was put through an evaluation period to assess its impact on the RCC and whether it would prove useful to RCC staff. The system users reported that the prototype:

  • Increased the level of intelligence at the control centre through the ready availability of real-time traffic information
  • Improved the management of resources within the control centre
  • Made a marked improvement to road journey times and the reliability of displayed journey time information

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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.

Newly Developed Web-Based Tool Facilitates the Analysis of M25 Road Data

Newly Developed Web-Based Tool Facilitates the Analysis of M25 Road Data

Newly Developed Web-Based Tool Facilitates the Analysis of M25 Road Data

Operating Systems: Windows
Languages: C#
Frameworks: .NET
Databases: Microsoft SQL Server
Our client was a leading infrastructure consultancy with particular expertise in the Highways & Transport industry sector. As a result of this experience, our client was contracted by the Highways Agency (now named Highways England) to manage the M25 sphere.

As part of the management service our client needed to be able to analyse data regarding events that had occurred on the road network within the M25 sphere. This data was collected from a number of disparate sources and held in a variety of databases and file formats.

Zircon were approached to develop a web-based tool that would facilitate the analysis of held data by connecting to, and extracting data from, each database/file and mapping it to a common location referencing method before loading it into a single SQL Server database residing on a Windows Server.

Once in place the user was provided with methods to query for occurrences by location, time and date, or by type. In turn these queries could be merged so that, for example, congestion occurring on specific sections of motorway following an incident could be investigated. Once a query had been made the tool displayed the results in tabular format via a web-based interface.

Zircon’s tool, thanks to its query function, provided our client with powerful data mining capabilities to allow them to fully analyse the data regarding events on the M25 sphere.

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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.