02 November 2017
Early next year, the UK government plans to transition emergency service communications from the Airwave radio system to existing commercial 4G networks.
The new Emergency Service Network (ESN) will allow police, fire and ambulance services to stream high resolution video, send images and access real-time information. [Editor’s note: also see News, Jan 2016 issue.] A smooth transition which navigates the complexities of capturing additional data sources is vital for all blue-light services up and down the country. It’s important to start preparing for the switch over now, rather than being swamped with multimedia once the network goes live.
With a deluge of data currently overwhelming emergency services, data silos are inevitable and it’s easy to see why data management can be a complex task. With broadband data as standard, ESN is set to increase the volume of information captured by emergency services. IT professionals will need to ensure that processes are streamlined and data can be accessed from a centralised location.
Solutions such as digital evidence management systems can help emergency services manage and store incoming data. By facilitating the recording and organisation of voice, video and messaging communications and associated metadata. Giving the ability to search, find and share information easily as well as understanding the wider picture.
Discarding inflexible legacy IT systems and processes is no easy task, but the imminent launch of ESN provides a good opportunity to identify solutions which are inefficient and hinder collaboration.
Centralising operations and adopting common systems will help emergency services to collaborate with other agencies and tackle the growing storage problem in an affordable and scalable way. Cloud-based systems not only help the digitisation of reporting but also enable control rooms to be more efficient, cut response times and harness data sets – helping responders spot patterns.
As with every unknown situation, ESN causes some concern. However, it also brings about an opportunity for change and the chance for the UK to raise the bar on emergency service communications for those willing to fully embrace it.