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Fire and Emergency seeks single source of truth

New apps and communications tools will integrate field operations with a single data store
Firefighters scope journey to a single source of truth.

Firefighters scope journey to a single source of truth.

Fire and Emergency NZ is embarking on a four-point mission to deliver a single common source of data.

In 2017, Fire and Emergency NZ (FENZ) was formed through the merger of 40 rural, urban, career and volunteer fire services, bringing together 11,300 volunteers and 2,800 career firefighters and support staff in over 600 locations.

The organisation, which operates emergency response services nationwide, said improvements in the way it manages data were required.

Data needed to be captured at source and systems and applications needed to reference one source of common data, it told a Parliamentary review.

"An enterprise information strategy has been created that has commenced a four-point plan to invest in data cleansing, migrating multiple data stores to one source and providing mobile applications to capture data in the field," it said.

Separately, FENZ this month requested information for an enterprise integration platform.

"FENZ’s current integration method is point to point deployed as quick fix solution to transfer data from one system to another," it explained. 

"This has built up organically over time leading to the infrastructure becoming unmanageable, brittle, and damaging to both the IT budget and the FENZ’s ability to meet current and changing business demands, for example the Human Resource (HR) systems.

"Because of this integration pattern, it is not possible to get confident data that is accurate as the master is not identified."

Currently personnel have to be at the station to enter and update data electronically. In the field, they have to fill out paper-based forms. 

However, the organisation's "foundations for mobility program" is banking on cloud technologies to deliver applications to staff. 

Mobility applications being rolled out in the first half of this year will enable them to enter incident, site and contact data in the field and for that information to be immediately available to other users.

A new app to be trialled this month will also enable volunteers to electronically advise station members that they are responding to an incident.

The app also provides a “rostering” feature that highlights when crew members are on standby or away. An additional feature will allow crew members to nominate the number of a person who will be automatically advised when their partner has been called to an incident.

The nationwide roll-out to stations of new, incident ground radios was completed in December at a cost of $10.7 million and a HR kiosk system, Home Base, has also been rolled out to all urban areas, rural districts and corporate business units.

"The new radios are specifically built for firefighting conditions and have significantly improved features such as noise cancelling that ensures communication is crystal clear between staff," Fire and Emergency explained.

"The dual band radios easily functions across UHF and VHF, an important feature for rural and forestry incidents."

The organisation is also working with other emergency services partners to implement a future communications system that will replace existing narrow band radio with a highly available broadband network providing guaranteed access for voice, data and high-definition video. 

"This will mean that during major incidents (such as floods or earthquakes), emergency services partners can continue to communicate and have access to critical business applications and improved services to exchange data and information, including video and images."

Shortly before the the 2017 merger, NZ Fire Service tapped Spark to deliver telecommunications as a service (TaaS).