The public sector is becoming ever more technology
based and this trend is no different within the emergency
services. Whereas the Fire
and Rescue Service in England once relied on simple horse-drawn
carriages and manual pumps, and good policing meant having officers
walking the beat, both now have an array of technological applications
that would leave Alexander Graham Bell smiling in wonderment.
While the implementation of the shiny new hardware is readily apparent,
often forgotten is the processes behind it - the many varied elements
that go into creating the whole. The EADS-led
project is one such example that will see £350 million invested
in bringing the already admirable Fire and Rescue Service into the 21st
Joining the many partners involved in the project, including Ericsson
and Hewlett Packard, is IT specialist iMass,
which has been tasked with the implementation of Mobile Data Terminals
(MDTs). FiReControl will see these MDTs installed into every fire
appliance, supplying the firefighters with a wealth of information
about the incident they are, or will be, attending, such as information
about travel routes, the location of fire hydrants, chemical handling
data and even hose measurements.
Data sourced from the National Land and Property Gazetteer (NLPG) will
underpin a significant part of the MDTs. This Local Government
Association initiative to create the first national database of
addresses since the Domesday
Book sees the amalgamation of all the address data held by local
authorities into one "super gazetteer."
In addition to the mapping of every address in England, the framework
for the NLPG - British Standard BS7666 - created a standardized method
of recording the data that allowed for each building to be given a
unique property reference number (UPRN). With this came the
removal of duplication and the opportunity for far easier
identification of mismatches or inaccuracies.
These address data, the most accurate and up-to-date ever available,
will be integrated into the MDTs through the software of gazetteer
specialist Aligned Assets,
which has been subcontracted by iMass specifically for the task.
One of the keys to Aligned Assets' Symphony
software, as it is called, is to use the geocode recorded alongside the
address data, so that each record contains mapping coordinates in
addition to the standard address. With this geocode, the address
data can be viewed visually as a map, supplying the firefighters at the
scene with detailed information on actual buildings and locations in
the area of the incident.
The software is also due for integration into all of the nine new
regional control centers (RCCs), which are to be at the center of the
FiReControl Project. The technology will allow call operators
access to over 30 million addresses, which are kept constantly
up-to-date by the local councils, thus allowing precise location
Via the new Firelink network (the communications equivalent of
FiReControl), these data can then be used to mobilize the nearest (by
travel time) and most appropriate (in terms of having the attributes
necessary to manage the incident) resources, regardless of the Fire and
Rescue Service to which they belong. All this information, along
with the location data, is then fed directly into the MDTs.
FiReControl will be taking the process further than just receiving the
address data, however, and also plans on taking advantage of Symphony's
ability to send data back via its iExchange
module. Information gained during operational activity, once
validated by the corresponding local authority, will then become a
permanent inclusion within the dataset.
In addition, by using another of Aligned Assets' products known as the
Xtended Data Module (XDM), the Fire Service will have the ability to
link supplementary information to each property that is not provided by
the NLPG. As well as having each property's address information,
independently identifiable by its UPRN, the Fire and Rescue Service can
link information such as the dates of fire safety checks, hazardous
materials stored at the property and flood risk potential.
Whereas previously this information would be stored in different
locations, the software will allow for it all to be available from one
source, accessible both at the RCCs and to the firefighters on the
ground through the MDTs.
The FiReControl project has three main drivers: to increase resilience,
to enhance capability and to improve efficiency. Through the use
of the most modern hardware, using the most up-to-date software,
FiReControl will enable England's firefighters to get the information
and technology they require to successfully do their jobs and
ultimately to save lives.