Exploring the Future of Fire Services with Airbus SAFEcommand
written by Will Holmes, Business Manager- Public Sector, Panasonic TOUGHBOOK
Fire services continually deliver excellent services whilst facing tightening public budgets and demanding environments. As gold sponsors of Airbus SAFEcommand, we spent two days collaborating with our software partners to deliver modern solutions.
Modern organisations have embraced digitisation to streamline their workflows, making day to day processes more efficient and supporting end users in the field and the office alike. There are few sectors in which these optimised processes carry a larger impact than the emergency services.
Fire services, in particular, need to continually deliver operationally excellent services with minimal response times whilst facing tightening public budgets and difficult environments. Decades of experience with fire customers has helped us to hone our rugged, tailored solutions, and we are proud to provide services across Europe with future-facing computing to support daily processes, from tasks from training to route optimisation and on-the-ground reporting. But we don’t do this alone.
Last month, we were proud to be gold sponsors at the Airbus SAFEcommand conference in Newcastle. As one of our largest and longest-running fire software partners, Airbus has a long pedigree in the market, regularly conducting the highest levels of testing and certification, and always maintaining a dialogue with their end-users. This annual event provides Airbus - and partners like ourselves - with the perfect forum to spend valuable face time with our customers. This year marked my tenth time attending with TOUGHBOOK, and it was brilliant to spend two days homing in on the obstacles that our fire customers are facing in their digital transformation journey and the ways in which we and our partners can collaborate to address them.
The Connectivity Challenge
Improving connectivity and communication is a big topic in the emergency services today. Not only is it important that fire responders and vehicles maintain full connectivity in the field, but services are also looking to technologies that can improve data sharing and communication on the fire ground.
With each emergency service operating under a national program, decision makers have very specific needs for any technological investments that they implement. Public services invest in digital and mobile solutions cautiously, and they should. Any technologies implemented to improve connectivity need to support units for a long time, with the adaptability to integrate into any future updates or installations as part of the ESN (Emergency Services Network).
Solving through collaboration
At the conference, my team and I hosted a presentation that focused on helping services to navigate the uncertain terrain of improving connectivity under these pressures. I am always pleased to see one of Panasonic’s seven principles, contributing to society, shining brightest at these events. TOUGHBOOK’s long-standing relationship with fire and other emergency services customers allow us to provide fit-for-purpose, flexible solutions that support them in helping the public each day.
Airwave and ESN accreditations ensure that mobile devices can operate on the Tetra network and ensures they will meet the base level of the ESN, allowing decision makers to trust in their investments regardless of future connectivity rollouts. Likewise, services are increasingly turning to multi-bearer sims to provide fire ground coverage whilst maintain flexibility and low costs.
At TOUGHBOOK, we understand the importance of meeting the connectivity needs of our emergency services customers and our partnerships allow us to bring complete solutions driven by experts. With the specific pressures they face, our fire customers often witness the power of these partnerships first-hand. Norfolk Fire and Rescue service is a prime example of the total solution approach in action: using Panasonic TOUGHBOOK tablets as Mobile Data Terminals (MDTs), response vehicles have access to reliable LTE and 5G connections through Cradlepoint’s NetCloud Service and IBR1700 Series wireless routers. Not only does this bring the additional control of multi-bearer connectivity, connecting the Norfolk unit with EE and Vodafone, it also allows users to join nationwide public safety networks such as the upcoming ESN.
In offering these provisions, as well as building each TOUGHBOOK device with its own internal optimised modems and antennas to account for 4G on any key bearer, we ensure we cover and support fire users as they make the best choices for their individual units with solutions that are tried, tested, and approved.
Information sharing in particular has been a big focus of fire software, and forums like SAFEcommand enable software providers to hear and meet the on-the-ground priorities of their customers as they evolve. The ability to share data at an incident - documents such as construction plans, risk data, COSH information - can support fire crews in making life-critical decisions.
Our devices alone cannot meet the exacting needs of the fire sector, and our long-standing collaborations with credible software partners and our customers themselves ensures that we can continue to support fire services in delivering operational excellence each day.
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