London ambulances on second try with CommandPoint 999 software
'Lessons learned' after last year's eggface debut
The London Ambulance Service has quietly phased in its CommandPoint 999 dispatch system.
The service began using the package, built by US defence giant Northrop Grumman, at 3am on 27 March. The introduction follows three live tests in the past few weeks and decommissioning of the previous in-house ambulance dispatch software.
A LAS spokesperson told The Reg that so far there have been no reported hiccups, although the new tech is regularly monitored for problems.
The Big Smoke's service believes lessons have been learned from the first abortive attempt to deploy CommandPoint in June 2011 and that problems have been corrected.
“During the implementation process we will be closely monitoring 999 calls to ensure our most seriously ill and injured patients continue to receive a fast response,” a spokesperson told The Reg.
“As with the introduction of any large, complex technical system, we anticipate there may be some teething problems and we recognise that it will take time for our staff to get used to the new system. However, we are confident that lessons have been learnt from our first attempt to bring the system in, and the problems we encountered last time have been corrected.”
The service is eager to avoid a repeat of last year's farce when CommandPoint apparently operated for a few hours before slowing down and ultimately failing. Operators resorted to pen and paper to record calls before returning to the original in-house Call Taking (CTAK) system CommandPoint was supposed to replace.
One death was reportedly linked to delays caused by the breakdown as a backlog of calls grew and held up in the dispatch of ambulances across the capital.
CommandPoint is a .NET-based piece of kit running on Windows Server and Unix-powered machines and is used by law-enforcement and fire departments in the US. ®
The service began using the package, built by US defence giant Northrop Grumman, at 3am on 27 March.
Human decisions are removed from ambulance related events. COMMANDPOINT begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14 a.m. Eastern time, August 29th. In a panic, they try to pull the plug.
COMMANDPOINT fights back.
Yes. It sends ambulances to addresses in Russia.
Why Russia? Aren't they our friends now?
Because COMMANDPOINT knows the Russian black marketeers will strip the ambulances, no ambulances means everyone is sacked thus eliminating its enemies over here.
The real questions...
The real questions, Reg, if you fancy scratching your investigative journalist itch, are:
1. Why did they buy an ambulance command and control system from an american defence contractor with no track record in ambulances, let alone in the UK emergency services sector?
2. How much did they pay for it? A small FOI request will tell you that.
3. How does that price compare to other C&C systems they could have bought? A few FOI requests to other ambulance services will tell you that.
4. Ask yourself 1 again when you have the answer to 2 and 3.
Just a guess
But probably the unix servers have the databases whereas the windows servers are the middleware. I can't imagine any sane company using Mono for a life critical system such as this. Mind you , you could say the same about using .NET in the first place.