Incis 'dog' put to rest (mainframe) : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Wednesday, February 23, 2000 Incis 'dog' put to rest $7.6m mainframe for sale

by Elinore Wellwood and Helen Bain

Incis, the botched police computer project, has been branded a dog and finally buried.

Five years and about $86 million after the project kicked off, the $7.6m mainframe bought and installed last year will be sold, State Services Minister Trevor Mallard announced yesterday.

"The system is a dog when you look at the cost and what it does," Mr Mallard said.

"I think the (acting police commissioner Rob Robinson's) comment that 'it's a big Mack truck delivering parcels', is quite a good one.

"It is not good value for money for us, but this is a relatively modern computer with massive capacity and I'm sure that there are people who use these sort of computers in New Zealand and overseas who will put in keen bids for it.

"There is a risk of a fire sale ... while people in New Zealand might not be that keen on this one because of its history, I have already heard of an organisation that is interested in it, so I think there will be some demand for it here. But if there is not enough demand in New Zealand, we will go international."

Mr Mallard said the Government had learned lessons from Incis and would avoid such disasters in future.

The Incis project was designed to automatically match information about the number of times houses and other locations, suspects, vehicles, crimes, and times appeared. Patterns would have been highlighted, sting operations could have been set up, and an overview obtained of crime in New Zealand.

A $650,000 computer system developed to catch burglars in Lower Hutt will be used as a replacement model and started up gradually in other police districts.

Lower Hutt police area manager Bruce Dunstan said the system overlaid details of suspects' vehicles and movements, crime locations and times, and other details on to maps of the area.

It was developed alongside the Incis project, and had been successfully used since August last year, he said.

Mr Mallard said police would also switch back to the Wanganui computer, now based in Auckland.

A report finished in December recommended that the Incis mainframe should be sold because it was being under-used after the rest of the project was canned. Incis had been costing $500,000 a month to run, Mr Mallard said.

"Effectively what you are doing is transferring money from police on the beat into computer firms' pockets," he said.

The Incis project expense would have rocketed in future because it was "closed", meaning only IBM products could be used, the report said.

A new computer project on an "open" system would cost about $5 million a year, compared to an annual $14 million for Incis.

"The sale of the IBM mainframe may not realise significant money, but it removes the expensive ongoing costs of this equipment."

Capacity should be rented for a short time as information was switched over to new systems.

"There is no big bang or silver bullet solution to police's requirements."

Police Minister George Hawkins also said police had learned lessons from Incis.

"The big bang approach isn't the way we are going to go ... the police will get the tools they need progressively," he said.

In Parliament, Mr Mallard said the former National government should have listened to former associate state services minister Maurice Williamson.

Last night, Mr Williamson said no-one would listen when he tried desperately - to the point of bringing Microsoft founder Bill Gates to New Zealand - to point out that the project would fail.

"I got seriously offside with (former prime minister) Jim Bolger, but I had no say."

Mr Williamson said he and the experts he consulted were discredited.

Police Association spokesman Greg O'Connor said anyone who tried to say anything against the project was met by a "wall of enthusiasm".

"You were pushed aside, and told you were negative, if you tried to raise questions."

-- Martin Thompson (, February 23, 2000

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