Having successfully rolled out a Cadcorp corporate GIS last year Essex County Fire and Rescue Service (ECFRS) is now adding specialised desktop GIS software for resource planning and performance reporting.
Tracy King, GIS Officer at ECFRS, describes the rapid progress this large fire and rescue service has made in deploying Cadcorp Spatial Information System® (Cadcorp SIS®) software: “Until two years ago, we were using GIS in a very limited way. The Performance and Data Department had two licences of Cadcorp SIS desktop software, and there were a number of GIS products in other departments. However they were being used in a fragmented, autonomous and uncoordinated way. There was little sharing of technology, and little sharing of data. Starting 2012, we developed a business case to consolidate our GIS solutions. Two years later we had put in place a centralised spatial data store on SQL Server; extended the number of desktop SIS licences; rolled out a web GIS which can now be accessed by 1600 staff throughout the service; put in place an embedded web mapping tool to our Incident Recording System and we are sharing maps with our Command and Control system on a large video display.”
A key part of the consolidation exercise was to identify a supplier for an intranet GIS. Cadcorp was selected in open competition from a shortlist of five GIS vendors. “We place a lot value on the ability of Cadcorp SIS to read and write spatial data, whatever the format” noted Tracy. “We have had GIS in the past where the only way to import data was to employ consultants who knew how to work with a particular proprietary data format. That’s simply not sustainable when a fire service is experiencing cuts to its budget. With Cadcorp SIS we can import data in many formats in the knowledge that the GIS software will take care of its export to, and management in, SQL Server.”
The web GIS is already being used throughout the service, in many different ways. ”Probably the most widely-used operation is to search by address, and view a map centred on that address”, noted Tracy. “Some users will go on to create a PDF document from the map view as a way to share maps with others. The application is also widely used in the creation of Tactical Fire Plan maps. We are also seeing the value of using the application to merge our own data with that of partner agencies. We take crime data from the Police and flood data from the Environment Agency, and bring this together with our own data to support risk assessment and emergency planning.”
The same GIS software which is behind this multi-purpose web GIS, is also being used to power other systems in ECFRS, as Tracy describes: “We use Cadcorp’s geospatial web services engine – GeognoSIS – to provide us with a map-based front end to our Incident Recording System (IRS). An IRS user can now view the recorded location of an incident against a map, and if the recorded location is not sufficiently accurate, they can amend it online. Similarly, GeognoSIS is enabling us to publish maps as WMS layers into our Command and Control System. Controllers can now overlay and switch on map layers covering features such as highway marker posts, road junction numbers, fire hydrants, and flood zones.”
Although the web mapping project has been completed, Tracy is far from finished in her drive to spatially-enable the service. ECFRS has recently acquired Workload Modeller from Cadcorp. “We have to prepare for changes in the Service”, noted Tracy, “and this resource planning and performance monitoring application will be invaluable. It will help us relate the spatial distribution of our resources with the spatial distribution of known risk and help to break our dependency on external contractors to provide us with this analysis. Remodelling the way we deploy our resources is not a one-time activity. We need to constantly review the impact of any changes we make. Workload Modeller will provide us with this interactive capability, in-house.”
Mike O’Neil, CEO Cadcorp commented “’Knowing where’ is at the heart of everything a fire service does. Prevention, protection and response are all informed by having a better understanding of the geographic distribution of risk. ECFRS reminds us that there are many ways to share this location intelligence, ranging from rolling out a multi-purpose web GIS, and deploying a specialist desktop GIS, through to spatially-enabling existing business support systems.”
With a patch covering 367,000 hectares and a population of more than 1.74 million, Essex is one of the largest County fire services in the UK.
The county contains every conceivable risk – oil and gas terminals, a power station, two airports, docks, and arguably the country’s busiest motorway, the M25 which runs through the heart of our ground.
As well as fighting fires, attending road accidents and dealing with major emergencies, ECFRS have been given new responsibilities for preventative community safety work.
ECFRS currently employ 890 wholetime and 466 retained firefighters, 46 control staff and 253 support staff.
The Service has multiple sites throughout the county including 50 fire stations – 12 wholetime, 34 retained, 4 day crewed, plus one USAR station (Urban Search and Rescue) are sited to offer fire and rescue cover to every community within the county.
For more information, go to www.essex-fire.gov.uk/
Cadcorp is a British software development company focused on geographic information system (GIS) and web mapping software. It offers a complete suite of products – the Cadcorp Spatial Information System® (Cadcorp SIS®) – addressing all phases of spatial information management. Cadcorp software is currently helping forty-one UK fire services in protection, prevention, and response. Cadcorp SIS is available worldwide through a network of Cadcorp partners and through a direct sales team in the UK and Ireland.
For more information, go to www.cadcorp.com