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IT Revolution in The Design Office

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Engineering Computation and Analysis

The Design Office at DID Headquarters carried out engineering computations and analysis in designing Irrigation and Drainage Projects. In the early years, slide rules and abacus were used to do the computation. Then came the huge dedicated calculators; first those housed in a wooden box casing, followed later with those encased in steel.

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                                                     VICTOR basic calculator

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Calculators progressed on to those with memory functions like this CASIO calculator.

Next came Scientific Calculators like this Hewleter Packard (HP) Scientific Calculators with Exponential and Logarithm features

 
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In March 1985, JICA (Japan International Corporation Agency) presented DID with the first Programmable Pocket Computer, Model SHARP PC1500. Its accessory included a docking base with a thermal printer.

A number of short programs were written in-house using BASIC programming language eg.

  • SLUICE - To calculate discharge below a vertical sluice gate in a horizontal channel of rectangular cross-section.

  • CULVERT - For hydraulic design computations in design of culvert

  • FLOW & QSD - For hydraulic design computations in design of open channels

   

Dawn of the IT era in DID

The first desktop personal computer made its debut in DID in Design Office in December 1983.

  • Apple LINGO PC - with 8086 processor with a composite green monitor. It was later changed to a paper-white monitor.

  • EPSON RX Printer - a dot matrix, 80 column printer.

Some of the programs written in-house to assist in design computations and analysis were:

  • SLOPESTA - Slope stability analysis using Bishop's method written in MBasic.

  • BACKWATR & BWRANDF - Backwater program and data file written in MBasic based on step energy method.

  • IRR - To calculate Internal Rate of Return for Irrigation Projects written in MBasic.

  • HP1/HP11 - Estimation of flood discharge written in Applesoft Basic.

  • Simpson Vol. Routine - Earthworks computation written in Applesoft Basic.

The second desktop Personal Computer acquired in April 1985 was a FUJITSU with a 8088 processor and came with a Fujitsu color monitor. The OS was CP/M-86  running on Micro 16S Operating System. The programs used earlier were modified and converted to FBasic.


PCs that followed used Intel 80286 and 80287 math co-processor,  up till the latest Pentium processors today. The major computer acquisition that followed the 2nd PC in DID was in April 1988 with a tender contract acquiring "Commodore" PCs and other peripherals, primarily for CAD purposes.

   

Drafting
Preparation of engineering plans in DID also made tremendous advancement with IT technology. Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) was first introduced in DID with AutoCAD in 1988. It slowly replaced all manual drawing boards in the Design Office. With the use of in-house LISP programming and customised templates for DID , drafting took on a modern approach for improved efficiency within a short period with a steep learning curve.

 

 

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Word Processing

The first fully dedicated Word Processing Machine, Model NBI System 8 Office Automation System was acquired by DID Headquarters in 1980. It comprised of one NBI Model 8 ICU (Integrated Control Unit) and was linked to 7 numbers of dummy terminals (NBI OASys MODII work stations) and 1 Printer within the headquarters building. The storage media used were 8" floppy diskettes. There was NBI Single Side, Single Density and also Double Side, Double Density diskettes. Later with the introduction of Personal Computers and WordStar as the popular word-processing software, this dedicated word-processing machine was soon phased out and became obsolete.

 

 

Database
With the introduction of Personal Computers and programs like DBASE, SuperCalc and Symphony, information earlier collected in record books were then stored in computers eg: Design Office Plans Records System using DBaseIII and Foxbase totalling more than 80,000 plans. As DID celebrates its 70th Anniversary, DID today has developed many information systems, some integrated with GIS (Geographical Information System), and now geared towards web-based.

 

 

Homepage
The DID launched its own website in December 1995. The website address then was http://agrolink.moa.my/jps. The Department's website was then moved to http://agrolink.moa.my/did. The DID's website was fully developed and maintained in-house via Webmasters at each Division in HQ and each State DID, with the Director of IT as DID's Chief Webmaster. By 2004 DID website address was changed to http://www.water.gov.my

 

 

Local Area Network (LAN) and Wide Area Network (WAN)
As at 1 January 2002, the DID Headquarters building in Jalan Sultan Salahuddin has 317 number of nodes linked with UTP cables to a central ATM Switch Hub and Router that is linked by fibre-optic cable to the Ministry of Agriculture through a campus WAN. The DID Ampang Branch is linked to DID HQ via Agrolink with a 128kbps Time Telekom Lease Line.

 

 

Email
Email was widely used as the medium of communication and transfer of information in DID beginning year 1997. The first DID Circular regarding IT was sent out on 22 Sep. 1997 on the Guidelines of Using Email in DID.

The Email servers used were that by the Ministry of Agriculture (@pop.moa.my and @smtp.moa.my). In August 2001, DID established its own email server (@did.moa.my). By 2004, all the email accounts were changed to the new extension "@water.gov.my".

 

 

Birth of IT Division on DID
Not withstanding the Hydrology Division which has its own long history of computerization, the first seeds of a Computer Unit was established within the Design Office in 1987. The Design Office then had a centralised Computer Room with a number of PCs that were used for wordprocessing, spreadsheets, database and plan drafting. Besides the PCs, there were other peripherals eg.Printers and Plan Plotters up to A0 size, Digitizers and Tape Storage Devices.

  • 1st. PC - "Apple Lingo" Computer

  • 1st. Printer - "Epson RX" Printer, 80column dot matrix

  • 1st. Plotter - "Roland" Pen Plotter, A3 size.

  • 1st. Digitizer - A4 size "Summagraphics" digitizer

  • 1st. Storage Device - "Tallgrass" Tape Storage Device.

 

 

In 1992, a MIS Unit (Management Information System Unit) was established within the Planning and Policy Division in DID Headquarters. The Director of Planning & Policy Division was then Ir. Keizrul bin Abdullah, and the MIS Unit Head was Ir. Ng Chau Chen as the first MIS Unit Head, followed by Ir. Cho Heng Yuen. The MIS Unit was later renamed IT Unit, being led by Ir. Ong Siew Heng and on 1 Mac 1997 by Ir. Rozaini Abdullah.

 

 

On 1st January 1998, the IT Unit broke away from Planning & Policy Division to establish itself as the IT (Information Technology Division) with the first Director of IT as Ir. Rozaini bte Abdullah. As at 1st January 2002 as DID celebrates its 70th Anniversary, the workforce comprises of 9 technical staff however, the IT Division is still not officially recognised by JPA then. The current Information Technology Division was officially formed on 1st September 2005 as result of JPS major restructuring program. A total of 22 post were allocated by JPA and it is now being headed by Puan Norizan Harun,  as the third director of  Information Management Division.