Firefighting a thing of the past at Herts Fire & Rescue - Sunrise Software

News Release

With the introduction of Sunrise Enterprise, Hertfordshire Fire & Rescue ICT Dept have seen a big improvement in the service that they offer their end users. They are now a truly 24 hour support service.

24 January 2006

ICT Department offering improved service:

  • Web-enabled Enterprise offers improved flexibility and efficiency
  • ICT department now offering 24 hour support to Fire & Rescue sites
  • Compatibility with other applications has assisted ICT Department
  • Easy-to-use solution has helped end users across Hertfordshire

Background

Hertfordshire Fire & Rescue ICT Department support 32 Fire Stations, five Area Offices and four Fire Safety Offices spread across Hertfordshire. The department’s remit includes managing the networking services, communications, radios, mobile phones, landlines, hardware, software plus the systems at the Services Command & Control Centre where 999 emergency calls are answered. Helped by Sunrise Enterprise, the ICT department have improved internal processes and the level of service to end users with the introduction of features such as 24 hour support and remote access for users and administrators alike.

The Project

For the ICT department, one of the biggest challenges with the project was managing such a large geographical area with a relatively small ICT team. The department spend a fair amount of time on site across the county dealing with a number of areas including fault resolution, software installation, hardware installation and ad-hoc staff training. With a team of seven working flat out to support the hundreds of multi-skilled end users across the 40+ Fire & Rescue sites in Hertfordshire, this was going to be no easy task. Janice Nayler, ICT Technical Support Supervisor, highlights the situation that the department faced.

“Because the various sites are located across quite a vast area, the ICT department were looking for a solution that offered the ability to check calls whilst on site and because most fire stations are manned 24 hours it was also necessary for users to log calls after office hours. Enterprise, with its web interface, met both of these criteria.

Apart from the flexibility of a web interface, the department needed a reliable product that was relatively easy for end users to navigate, was cost effective and would integrate with other applications. Janice explains further.

We needed a solution that was cost effective and easy to use. Local government get their money from taxation and we have to ensure that this money is spent wisely, plus we have end users who are more skilled at fighting fires than operating PCs. We understand that their main job is to put out fires and to provide a service to the county, therefore the fact that Enterprise is similar to Microsoft products in that it is double click to open helps enormously.

Another consideration was the ability to integrate with other products. We use remote control software called LANDesk and Enterprise needed to be able to import the data from the inventory of LANDesk into the helpdesk to help with our calls. We also needed software that was compatible with Lotus notes and able to work hand in hand with Active Directory so that users can log onto the Internet Desk using their network log-on.

One final requirement of Enterprise was reliability, particularly important because the department are responsible for the systems at the Command & Control Centre, which is used to handle 999 calls from the public and manage incidents. System faults can ultimately affect the ability of Command & Control to answer emergency calls, and Janice explains the role of Enterprise.

If a system problem is encountered at Command & Control we need to ensure that it is logged on the Enterprise helpdesk, particularly as the resolution is often complex and because there are a number of 3rd parties who look after the system in partnership with us. Reliability is absolutely vital here due to the fact that the centre deal with emergency calls.

The Benefits

According to Janice, the ICT department have made great strides in recent months.

We currently use Enterprise to log all IT faults, change requests and miscellaneous items such as quotes for new equipment. We also use the Knowledge Base to store details useful for the team when we are on site resolving faults or installing hardware and software. Plus, there is the Internet Desk and Web Client, which is handy for the team to check their calls whilst on site (which sometimes could be 30 miles away from HQ) and close calls if they are resolved.

The benefits have been numerous for Herts, as Janice further details.

The Knowledge Base is becoming a source of all information and means that we can effectively deal with common problems and new people to the helpdesk can basically ‘hit the ground running” which saves us time, money and effort. Also, through FastFix, many repetitive calls have now been eradicated. The ability to remotely fast-fix a common problem such as a forgotten password allows the ICT team to do the job quickly and efficiently.

It comes as no surprise then that the reputation of the ICT Department has improved in the eyes of their clients. The various new processes put in place have helped the department to promote a more professional attitude and to be able to support its clients better. The feedback received by Janice and her team has been complimentary to say the least.

We are now a proactive department as opposed to a reactive one. There is plenty of work still to do but we now log all calls, which was not always the case, we are developing a fantastic Knowledge Base that is helping us all and we are dealing with and resolving calls on-site. We are now effectively providing a 24 hour support operation.

The Future

Janice accepts that whilst real progress has been made in recent times, which the department can be quite rightly proud of, there is still much to do before they can rest on their laurels.

The department is a very busy one and we need to get all our current projects completed. I would think that most IT departments are guilty of this at some time; we start one project and then another comes along which is higher priority and the original one gets put to one side. Once we have this under control we will be looking at Biometrics to reduce the burden on mandatory password changes and wireless networking for our sites and for Fire Fighters out there in the field, especially in relation to major disasters.

Further Information

For further information on Enterprise or any other software solution by Sunrise please call 020 8391 9000 or email enquiries@sunrisesw.com

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