The Halifax Port Authority
Over 1,500 ocean-going cargo ships enter the Port at Halifax every year. They are from the world’s largest shipping lines. And they transport billions of dollars worth of cargo to and from 150 different countries.
The Halifax Port Authority (HPA) is accountable for the long-term planning and development of infrastructure, including digital infrastructure, to maintain and grow activities within the port in a responsible, sustainable way. Many different stakeholders depend on their PortControl system, to provide accurate and up-to-date information on operations across the entire port.
But PortControl relies on data coming from many different internal and external legacy systems. These inputs are often delayed and contain errors. So there is a lot of manual intervention to match and correct them before they can be properly consumed.
HPA called on ObjectSharp (the Microsoft Business Group of Centrilogic) to help them develop a new Cloud-based Data Strategy. And then create a plan to implement it.
KEY TECHNOLOGIES USED
- Azure Data Factory
- Azure Databricks
- Azure Data Lake
- Azure Synapse
- Azure Purview
- Azure Devops
“From the Shipping Lines to the Railways, many different stakeholders depend on us for accurate and timely data across all port operations”, said Derrick Whalen, Director of IT at HPA.
“We try to provide that, but our source data is coming at different times, in different forms, and from different internal and external legacy systems. So to get a true view of current operations, you often have to manually search through different data sources.”
“We wanted a way to pull all the key data together from those disparate systems, and automatically synchronize and clean them up. Then our stakeholders could see everything in one place, through ‘a single pane of glass’.”
“But we needed help to do this. So that is why we turned to ObjectSharp.”
“Our ultimate goal is to have our new data platform (HPA Integration Hub) be an accurate and up-to-date central repository for the status of all operations across the entire port. And this data will be updated automatically, in real-time, for analysis and planning by all our stakeholders.”
WHAT WE DID
The first step for the ObjectSharp Consultants was to meet with business stakeholders from all branches of HPA. Then they developed a detailed user-centric data map that showed the data flows across all port operations.
This gave HPA a clear understanding of the Current State of their data sources and processing. It highlighted the problems with the current data and systems.
The Consultants also catalogued all the key operational data, showing what files and formats each of the data were in. And importantly, what data could be relied on as being accurate (vs needing cleansing before it could be used).
At the end of the analysis, the ObjectSharp consultants had also identified a number of legacy and manual processes that were preventing the accumulation of accurate, timely data. They recommended that for some of the sources of data, old systems should be modernized and streamlined so the incoming data could move more directly, more cleanly into the HPA Integration Hub. And they developed a Proof of Concept to show how that could be done.
The ObjectSharp Consultants then produced a vision of a Future State showing how to aggregate all the key data into a single place for analysis and planning purposes. Their vision was for the HPA Integration Hub to be an enterprise, cloud-first data platform that would ingest all the key data from many different sources, then provide real-time updates to different consumers as the data changed.
Based on their experience, the ObjectSharp Consultants created a multi-phase Implementation Plan to simplify and modernize HPA’s data assets. The vision for this was based on a reference Architecture recommended by Microsoft for Cloud Scale Analytics.
The Plan included a specification for the ideal team that HPA should assemble to work with ObjectSharp on the implementation. ObjectSharp also laid out Data and Azure learning tracks for each HPA Team member. And there were clear definitions of the roles and responsibilities for all HPA and ObjectSharp Team members.
This multi-year plan has now been approved by the HPA Executive Team. And together, HPA and ObjectSharp have kicked off the implementation of the new HPA Integration Hub.