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Improving the improved

NLPG Exemplar Award Runner Up – FiReControl Award for the Best Integration of the NLPG by a Fire & Rescue Service 2009: Kent Fire & Rescue Service.

Fire and Rescue Services exist to prevent fires and accidents and to respond quickly to incidents as they arise. In Kent, the Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) has 65 stations all of which have to respond to incidents around the clock. This places a huge dependency on the systems that support the service at all its locations. Crews rely on high quality data to ensure they know where they are going and what they might face when they get there.

KFRS has had long term involvement with the NLPG, initially through KentConnects, an ICT partnership of public sector bodies within the county. It was this partnership that funded the first NLPG corporate gazetteer for KFRS in 2003. This partnership also started an active cycle to improve data quality. The central strategic aim behind KFRS’ efforts in this area is: “to collect, store and manage all information relevant to service delivery activity, enabling the accessing, linking, reporting and display of this information to the right person at the right time and at the right location for maximum service delivery benefit.”

This process is ongoing. FiReControl spurred further efforts to put the NLPG at the heart of things. It encouraged the switch from a street based to a property based, BS 7666 compliant, corporate gazetteer. This would not only require considerable effort to integrate with KFRS’ own in-house mobile data systems, but also with other key delivery systems, such as Fire and Community Safety. Work to enable the gazetteer to store and manage a range of other non-BS 7666 data, such as station areas, socio-demographic profiles and environmental data, was also mooted, in order to link property and area specific information needed by crews. This would include, for example, information on fire fighter risks, building plans, and hydrant information. Adding new data to systems would have to be achieved without compromising address search performance, crucial to mobilisation.

Specific operational improvements associated with mobilisation have been realised through the deployment of satellite navigation into vehicles fitted with mobile data terminals. This enables crews to exploit the availability of accurate incident location provided by the NLPG. Analysis of call handling and average attendance times to incidents occurring in private houses indicates significant performance improvement where NLPG location has been involved.

By establishing the UPRN as the primary key across service delivery databases, KFRS has now embarked upon a large project to implement an operational premises risk management system. This will produce further information and business process alignment, covering data capture, quality assurance analysis and data sharing. For example, officers involved with fire inspections will know how many incidents there have been in particular buildings.

Other initiatives have looked to share the improvements in data with outside service providers. All 11 Central Alarm Station (CAS) providers in Kent, for example, used the NLPG to cleanse their address data. This enabled matching of automatic fire alarm calls from these providers directly to an address in the NLPG. Since this source represents 11% of the calls dealt with by KFRS, the benefits of this engagement were clear: quicker address recognition for Control Centre staff to match addresses; more accurate call location and significantly faster response times.

KFRS has embraced the opportunities offered to it by early adoption of the NLPG, and gained further impetus with the onset of FiReControl. All service delivery systems are now integrated with the NLPG delivering in-house efficiencies, along with improved mobilisation and attendance performance. It has also enhanced partnership working with its external service providers. This has produced a Fire Service that is at the forefront of current developments; one that continues to transform its processes and working practices to reduce risk and save lives.

Key benefits

  • Encouraged cross-departmental working.
  • Improved partnership working with service providers and 13 district councils.
  • Significant improvement in mobilisation and attendance performance.
  • Improved knowledge of risk improves preventative measures.
  • New operational premises risk management system with the NLPG at its core.
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