13 September 2019

True-blue network

North Wales Fire and Rescue Service (NWFRS) helps protect an estimated population of 678,461 people over an area of 2,500 square miles. It employs almost 1,000 staff in operational and support roles and has an estate that consists of 49 sites, 44 of which are fire stations.

The challenge

NWFRS struggled to deliver high speed, cost effective connectivity to its rural stations. The firefighters complete vital training and up-skilling activities on a weekly basis which require network connectivity. Given drill nights take place during peak broadband hours, the connection was sluggish and intermittent.

NWFRS also needed a high speed network to ensure there were no delays in new alerts reaching the firefighters as a reliable network has a direct impact on saving lives.

The Service also wanted to procure mobile data terminals, replacing paper-based maps and risk information held on each fire appliance. To keep this information up-to-date, data needed to be distributed to over 100 fire appliances across the network. The success of this project needed to be underpinned by a high-speed, reliable and resilient network.

The solution

PSBA provided a mixture of network bearers to meet the needs of NWFRS. Download and upload speeds are now fast enough to make the “drill night slow down” a thing of the past. Stations are receiving faster and, more importantly, more reliable connectivity.

ICT staff are released from continuously dealing with network faults as PSBA provides a complete service wrap. If a site goes down, it’s fixed within hours, not days, minimising the impact on response times. Additionally, when a fire call comes in and the control room mobilises a fire appliance, everyone has confidence that the PSBA network will be available and able to relay mobilisation messages without delay.

Digital content is being transmitted to mobile data terminals, giving the firefighters up-to-date operational intelligence on the emergencies they’re attending.

So that the organisation’s employees can be connected when working in other public sector sites, the Service signed up to PSBA’s roaming service. NWFRS collaborates with North Wales public sector organisations to ensure that it has seamless access back to the fire service network. As a result, the stations have become a hub of activity and a vital service for public sector workers when they’re on the move.

Recently, superfast broadband has been enabled in most of the areas where a fire station is located and NWFRS is engaging in a project with PSBA to improve bandwidth and reduce running costs.

Steve Morris, ICT Technical Manager, is responsible for the Service’s network and telecommunications. He said: “PSBA shifts data reliably and quickly at a reasonable price, supported by a team of specialists who can own a problem.”

How it helped:

• Faster download and upload speeds
• Resilient, reliable and secure network connectivity
• Cost savings help meet budget pressures
• Improved communications links with other public sectors
• Facilitates site sharing

This meant:

• Improved emergency response times
• Increased productivity?
• A future-proofed network
• Consumption of value add services

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