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GIS as a Catalyst for Change in the Fire Service

Matt Ball on October 30, 2013 - in Corporate, Emergency

Faced with big reductions in public sector funding, fire and rescue services in England have to make fundamental changes to their working practices. Many are finding that the key to smarter working is to have a better understanding of the geography of risk.  This will be the key message at a conference hosted by South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority in Sheffield on 12 November.

The conference is an annual event sponsored by GIS and web mapping specialist Cadcorp, and is an opportunity for fire service professionals to share their experiences in using geographic information for protection and prevention as well as response.

The event takes place some six months after the publication of Sir Ken Knight’s independent review of efficiency and operations in fire and rescue authorities in England. In ‘Facing the Future’ he described the success with which fire and rescue authorities have transformed themselves from organisations that dealt primarily with fire response, to organisations which also cover preventative and wider rescue work. In doing so they have reduced the number of incidents they attend.

The challenge fire and rescue services now face is how to transform their operations to reflect a completely different era of risk and demand, and to do so with much reduced budgets. Geographic information is key to this transformation.

Attendees will hear presentations from Nottinghamshire, Greater Manchester, Tyne and Wear, Shropshire and South Yorkshire fire services. They are all using GIS technology as a catalyst for change. Their experiences counter many of the criticisms of the Knight Report: that authorities don’t learn from each other; that they don’t replicate each other’s successes; that they don’t benefit from economies of scale; and that they are prone to duplicate effort in the design, commissioning and evaluation of bespoke products.

“Our location and addressing data combined with partner GIS technology, provides Fire and Rescue Services with the ability to identify risk and the precise location of incidents, both past and present” said Andrew Cooling, Sector Manager for Local Government and Emergency Services, Ordnance Survey. “It can also identify the best resource to respond to an incident and helps ensure that it gets there as quickly as possible saving time, money and lives. This data is available to all emergency services being ‘free at the point of use’ via the Public Sector Mapping Agreement”.

For details on how to register for this event, download the agenda  from the Cadcorp website.


Cadcorp is a British software development company focused on geographic information system (GIS) and web mapping software. It offers a complete suite of products – the Cadcorp Spatial Information System® (Cadcorp SIS®) – addressing all phases of spatial information management.  Cadcorp SIS is available worldwide through a network of Cadcorp partners and through a direct sales team in the UK and Ireland. For more information visit www.cadcorp.com

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