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NLPG to the rescue

NLPG Exemplar Award Runner up – Best business process transformation 2008: Surrey Fire and Rescue Service.

The Government is currently investing over £350 million in a nationally linked network of Regional Control Centres (RCCs) across England. This is known as the FiReControl project, part of a much wider investment that will provide the fire and rescue service with the resources and specialist equipment it needs to meet the challenges of today’s world such as; industrial accidents; terrorist threats and weather related incidents.

The FiReControl project will provide an integrated and modern network of nine RCCs that will be able to receive calls and mobilise resources across the country.

In preparation for the switch over, Surrey Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) has built a state-of-the-art dynamic mobilisation system that will dramatically speed up response times to incidents. The system, which went live in December 2008, has a number of key components. Each vehicle is fitted with both GPS satellite tracking and a ruggedised computer, which is connected to the command and control centre, sending and receiving data across mobile networks. The command and control software, which is designed specifically for the mobilisation task includes a ‘live map’ interface, which enables staff to see vehicle location in real time. Once an incident has been reported, the system automatically chooses the nearest, best-equipped and appropriate appliance based on fire type. A fire in a fourth floor flat, for example, will require an appliance with a ladder of appropriate height. The system also calculates the best routes based upon fire appliance travel time using Ordnance Survey mapping.

The final component of the system is the NLPG, which is used as the sole source of location information. SFRS has been working with local authority gazetteer custodians for over two years and, increasingly, the police and the NHS to build on the excellence of the NLPG to further improve the quality of the data. It has also migrated all its ‘risk intelligence’ relating to 50,000 properties to the NLPG with which the command and control system is now fully interfaced. In addition SFRS are building a web portal to post change and update information as it becomes available. Local authority gazetteer custodians will then access the portal in order to validate and update the NLPG.

Outcomes

The new system is already revolutionising how Surrey Fire and Rescue mobilise their appliances replacing the old system of geographic ‘parish mobilisation’ in exactly the same way as RCCs are supposed to do. Allying risk intelligence with dynamic location and routing means that the appropriate crews and appliances get routed to incidents more quickly and with greater accuracy. What‘s more, all the risk data will have been sent direct to the appliance’s cab mounted data terminal well before arrival at the incident. The potential to save lives, both of fire service personnel and the public at large, through speed of response and through dispatching the appropriate number of appliances, with the correct equipment, to the exact location, cannot be underestimated.

Use of the NLPG by local authorities, the fire and rescue service and increasingly the police and ambulance services will mean a much better gazetteer and more efficient transfer and sharing of data. Having unique property identifiers for every household and non-addressable buildings and structures, from churches to park bandstands, means accurate location for every eventuality is catered for.

Key benefits

  • The NLPG is the sole source of unique location data and risk intelligence.
  • Improved speed and accuracy of mobilisation.
  • Fire crews have all the necessary risk intelligence before they arrive at the incident.
  • Improved cooperation and data sharing between the emergency services and local authorities.
  • Formalised process and web portal to make the most of operations based intelligence.
  • More efficient use of fire service equipment and resources.
  • The fire service will be ready for the move to RCCs.
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