Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service: fighting fire in Hampshire with shared services
“By arming our firefighters with innovative technologies, we’re finding new ways to champion fire prevention.”
Neil Moore, Head of ICT, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service
Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service wished to enable high-speed information access to support data-intensive tools used by teams of firefighters across Hampshire. The service also needed to grow cross-agency collaboration whilst improving network resilience and lowering costs.
Virgin Media Business Digital Solution
We installed a shared services initiative.
Quicker access to critical information for fire fighters on the job. This was combined with secure access to shared network services, supporting collaboration with other fire services, police services and councils across the county and beyond.
Digital aims and operational goals
Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service was feeling the heat. A growing need for more network bandwidth to keep its firefighters connected, combined with public sector budget cuts was creating a big challenge. With the Virgin Media Business nationwide, fibre optic network, it tackled its challenge, with the additional benefit of saving on costs too.
Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service wanted to help its teams of fire fighters out in the field by giving them quicker, easier access to information and innovative applications – without burning through their budget. They also wanted to implement a system that would support collaboration between the fire service and other public sector agencies across the county.
Day-to-day life in a modern fire station is fast-paced and being constantly transformed by new technologies. Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service wanted to provide the very best in innovative tools and applications to its firefighters to support them on the job. It also wanted to get more involved with other fire service teams and public sector agencies in the county, such as local schools, the police and council departments.
From faster response to emergency call-outs, to fire prevention education in the local community, the fire service was determined to provide exceptional support, using the best technology available. But they needed to plan carefully to achieve this result within strict public sector spending guidelines.
“By arming our firefighters with innovative technologies, we’re finding new ways to champion fire prevention. More collaboration across our partner agencies also means we’re making more of our service across the county – and that means more support for the communities that we work with,” said Neil Moore, Head of ICT, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service.
Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service wanted a network that enabled them to develop capabilities, services and tools over time, such as quicker access to information and secure sharing capabilities when working with other public sector agencies. By using the Hampshire Public Sector Network 2 (HPSN2), a shared framework agreement launched in 2009 underpinned by Virgin Media Business’ nationwide fibre optic network, it procured a Wide Area Network Solution (WAN) with lots of room to collaborate and grow.
The network means big possibilities for the service. The WAN connects 52 sites across the county, including 51 fire stations and the service headquarters in Eastleigh.
40,000 999 emergency calls are made to the fire service across the county every year, and adopting new technologies is crucial for the team to stay agile, responsive and safe. The new network means that staff can now access specialised systems that help them to determine the fire risk to premises before they even leave the station. So when a 999 call comes in, the team has instant access to real-time information, helping them to assess any potential dangers before arriving at the scene.
“Almost 2,000 staff now have quicker access to information – whenever and wherever they need it. The network is helping us to stay one step ahead of the curve when it comes to making sure our teams are up-to-date at all times – just one missing detail could make all the difference when we’re called out to an incident,” commented Neil.
In addition to improving day-to-day processes for its firefighters, the service is now connected to 16 partner agencies, including Hampshire County Council, Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, Southampton City Council and Portsmouth City Council.
“We work with a whole host of partner agencies, including the Children’s Services at the county council, which means that security is an absolute priority for us. With the new network everyone can be assured that all confidential information and data that passes across the network stays secure,” continues Neil.
As a result, projects run more smoothly as they pass between departments within the network and collaboration continues to grow!
Staying true to its cost saving plan, the fire service is making use of new communication channels to cut down on traditional spending. With IP telephony supported across all its fire stations, it is already saving over £80,000 every year in telephone costs.
Video conferencing also means that the geographically disparate teams no longer need to travel to HQ to attend meetings.
“By monitoring the mileage and the associated cost saving, it’s keeping the green agenda front of everyone’s mind, encouraging ongoing communication and maintaining a close team working environment – even when we’re on opposite sides of the county,” concludes Neil.