When you think of the good work done by the Fire Services of the UK, I tend to think of two particular areas:  dealing with emergency responses or working in the community preventing incidents.  Last weekend I was invited to see this from a different perspective:

Inside the JOCC

The team at Tayside Fire and Rescue (Tayside) invited me to ‘T in the Park’ (Scotland’s largest music festival with over 85,000 festival goers) to observe how the service uses technology to support their operations in the field - in this case an old airfield.   Tayside form part of the JOCC (Join Operations Command Control) along with the Police, Ambulance and event Security Services.  Tayside take quite a bit of hardware onsite, including tenders, 4x4s and a buggy, but for me the most interesting technology  was how they used their onsite ICT.

Firstly, Tayside are using Microsoft Office Communications Server (OCS).    Because they have an internet connection on site, they are able to utilise the infrastructure they have back at HQ.

This gives them the ability to:

  • Hold impromptu video conference meetings with any of the stations in the Tayside area.  All stations are equipped with OCS clients and Microsoft Roundtables (collaboration and conferencing device).   This could be used for such things as discussing an escalating situation on the ground with real time media from the site.
  • Use the PC to make regular telephone calls – something that is not easily done by mobile phone when you are competing with 85,000 individuals wanting to share their favourite Proclaimers song with their friends not at the festival.
  • Instant Message (IM) with colleagues or other emergency services that are federated with Tayside.  When the bands are playing it can be easier to IM than have a voice call.
  • Those on duty can also access their voicemails straight from their Inbox meaning they don’t have to wait until they get back into the office to access their telephone.
  • Access the latest versions of Tayside Fire & Rescue corporate and procedural documents on the service’s secure document management and collaboration portal using SharePoint.

Secondly, they have access to the other systems they would have in the station.  This includes one system that monitors and details all 999 calls made into their call centre.  This helps the firefighters get an up to date picture of all the activity taking place in the Tayside area and includes what resources have been allocated to the emergency.   Should a situation at the festival occur and they require more support than the equipment onsite they can see what resource is potentially available nearby.

My thanks go to Gary Bellfield, ICT Manager at Tayside and his team, and Colin Rodger of DF Concerts (T in the Park organisers) for hosting me and for giving me the insight into the innovative ways in which they use Microsoft technology to help deliver a safe and secure site so that 85,000 festival revellers can focus on enjoying the music. (Part 2 of this blog to follow shortly).

Posted by Dan