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.

Capturing the Requirements of a Complex System Supports the Introduction of New Signalling Product

Capturing the Requirements of a Complex System Supports the Introduction of New Signalling Product

Capturing the Requirements of a Complex System Supports the Introduction of New Signalling Product

Methodologies: UML
Software Development Tools: Visio
Our client is a well-known name in the railway signalling sector, developing and maintaining a portfolio of signalling software products. Hoping to introduce a new product into this portfolio, our client discovered that they required additional support in the definition of their requirements.

Knowing that we had previous experience of working with their existing systems, and the capability to collate information regarding various interfaces and data sources, Zircon were initially brought into the project to complete a requirements capture for the new product. Working with each of the stakeholders involved in the development, we organised a series of workshops to gain a clear picture of what the system would be expected to do and how it would be used from which we could outline the requirements.

As this was a complex system, bringing together a variety of different data sources, some of which the client had never used before, we had to investigate and understand each source and the related interfaces. This helped to ensure interoperability of the data sources and that they would be suitable for use with our client’s product.

Having collated the findings from the workshops into a requirements specification, we were asked by the client to provide an estimate of the required resources and potential duration of development. As part of the estimation process we utilised UML to design a viable system architecture from the requirements specification.

With requirements and system architecture in hand, the client was able to commence the development of their new product. By utilising Zircon’s services, the client was able to focus on other important aspects of the project, knowing that we could bring together the various stakeholders and ensure all of their expectations would be captured in the final requirements.

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Zircon Successfully Delivers Peace of Mind to the Highways Agency in Partnership With WSP

Zircon Successfully Delivers Peace of Mind to the Highways Agency in Partnership With WSP

Zircon Successfully Delivers Peace of Mind to the Highways Agency in Partnership With WSP

Operating Systems: Windows
Languages: C#.NET, XML
Methodologies: Object Oriented Design, UML
Comms/Networking: TCP/IP, CORBA
Configuration Management: Source Safe
Software Development Tools: Visual Studio
Zircon recently helped WSP Intelligent Transport Systems to develop a Video Information Highway Certification Package (VIH CP) that will be used by the Highways Agency to ensure that new Video Clients and Television Base Stations comply with the agency’s VIH specifications.
Background to the Project
Our client, WSP Intelligent Transport Systems, play a pivotal role in the development of innovative and technology based solutions for a variety of transport systems and networks.

In this capacity they were asked to help the Highways Agency cope with an increase in demand from commercial and public organisations for access to the Agency’s CCTV images.

WSP were tasked with developing a supplier independent certified test system to ensure that all new Video Clients and Television Base Stations fully complied with the Highways Authority’s CCTV VIH specifications. What’s more, the new system had to be designed in such a way that it would not adversely affect the existing CCTV network or compromise its integrity in any way.

“I found them quite flexible – if anything needed to change from the original requirements, they were very good at taking this on board.”

David Weston

Project Manager, WSP

The Challenge
WSP decided to call upon Zircon’s expertise to help them complete this project. David Weston, Project Manager at WSP explains that “We’d used Zircon before on the original certification system, and that went well, so it was suggested that we contact them again for this. We just decided they were right for this…there was no tendering process.”

The project, which ran from November 2009 to July 2010, went very smoothly from start to finish, without any major challenges. “The project was well managed and deliverables were on time and to a high standard” commented David Weston.

Teamwork
“We worked together very closely, in effect as one team, and that was a big factor in creating such a good solution” David adds. “We were able to combine our skills very effectively.”

He was also particularly pleased by the fact that “[Zircon] were happy to send us code at regular intervals so we could do testing as it was being developed – it worked well in that respect. Some contractors want to be very protective of the code and will only release it all at the end. Zircon was very open to this collaborative style of working.”

David has no hesitation when asked whether he would use Zircon again. “Yes, I would recommend them, if it was a software related project.” He adds that “Obviously unexpected things happen along the way, and you have to take things in your stride.

The guys at Zircon were very good in this regard. I found them quite flexible – if anything needed to change from the original requirements, they were very good at taking this on board. Other companies are often not so accommodating. They will insist on reviewing the costs whenever there’s minor change.”

“They were happy to send us code at regular intervals so we could do testing as it was developed.”

David Weston

Project Manager, WSP

Conclusion

The package has been successfully delivered and is performing as required.

It is now providing Video Clients and Television Base Station developers with a controlled and closed environment in which to test the functionality and interfaces of their device without any danger of interfering with the live operational systems.

The last word from David Weston was that “Everything, design, development, testing and deployment, went as I expected it to, and as I had hoped. You can’t say fairer than that.”

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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.