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FOCUS


Embracing technology Barry Zielinski examines how investing in digital transformation can assist fire and rescue services with modern day response challenges


F


OR FIRE and rescue services (FRSs), every minute counts – and this requires them to respond to emergencies and work


to prevent them happening in the first place. Across England, they attend around half a million incidents every year. The problem is that these services face a signifi cant information and communications technology (ICT) challenge. As well as saving lives, they are tasked with


taking advantage of new ICT services while achieving this on increasingly tight budgets. Between 2015 and 2019 on average, FRSs faced a 22% reduction in their budgets because of government funding cuts, yet the volume of incidents they must respond to continues to rise. What’s more, the Home Offi ce has mandated


the introduction of the Emergency Services Network (ESN), which will move the services’ radio based communications to 4G cellular services. While this new network will transform the way these services operate, the providers of the services are being forced to think differently about their existing processes and how they will respond.


20 MAY 2019 www.frmjournal.com This puts added pressure on FRSs to


increase inter service collaboration, as well as to share information and services with other emergency service providers. And all the while they are enabling operational effectiveness and focusing on their core activity of preventing and responding to incidents. FRSs therefore need to harness every technological tool available to them and use each one to deliver leaner, smarter and safer services to the community. Is it too much to ask these services to


upgrade their ICT, manage government led technology reform and save lives – despite there being fewer fi nancial resources? The answer isn’t a straightforward one, but what’s certain is that embracing digital transformation in the fi re and rescue sector is no mean feat.


Futureproofi ng FRSs


A fundamental benefit of working with a managed ICT services partner is that FRSs can keep their technology and systems up to date. This ‘futureproofi ng’ of equipment and systems


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