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August 3, 2009

Fire service starts out with GIS

Software used to improve risk assessment process

By CBR Staff Writer

ESRI (UK) Ltd has developed a new market for its geographic information system (GIS) software, winning a first account in the fire and rescue services sector with the Avon Fire & Rescue Service deploying its software to help it more accurately carry out risk assessments.

The move should help improve public and fire-fighter safety at major fires and incidents. Avon is said to be the UK’s first fire and rescue service to deploy GIS.

Going forward Avon’s plan is to expand the use of GIS systems to incorporate location-based intelligence on the region’s critical infrastructure, such as power networks, open water supplies, drainage and fire hydrants. 

Geographic information system technology is used to combine and visualise layers of spatial information about a location. What layers of information can be combined depends on the purpose of the GIS application, and the insights being sought. 

By harnessing and analysing location data with a GIS, businesses have found they can optimise marketing plans, sharpen sales strategies, streamline service delivery, shorten distribution routes, improve asset management, or enhance resource utilisation.

At Avon the DragonMap ESRI system is being used on premise to capture data, such as construction materials and building entry/exit points, stored on digital maps held on ruggedised laptops.

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This data can then be transferred into the ArcView GIS so that risk analysis information can be shared across the organisation and with other crews in neighbouring areas. 

The same information can be viewed on screens inside the fire-cabs, giving the crew a clear understanding of the access points of a building at risk, or the location of hazardous materials in close proximity. 

The development is expected to considerably reduce the administration time required to produce paper based risk assessments, and should help protect fire-fighters by reducing some of the risk of the job.

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