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Inks deal with Capita for improved control room services

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The London Fire Brigade (LFB) has signed a £19.6m control room contract intended to deliver improvements including better call identification and data sharing with other emergency services.

A replacement for the LFB's existing control centre IT contract with Motorola, which expires in 2014, was due to have been delivered through the government's £469m FireControl project.

FireControl was to have reduced the number of fire service control rooms across the UK from 46 to nine.

John Anthony, project director for control and mobilising services at the LFB, who was the London representative for FireControl, said that because of the failure of the project, the LFB has had to replace the existing system itself.

It has signed a 10-year contract with Capita, and Anthony says that one of the main aims of the deal is improve is the exchange of data between the LFB, the Metropolitan Police, London Ambulance Service and possibly utilities companies.

"At the moment we have a lot of voice communications with them and we want to look at moving over to data transfer because it frees our staff for call taking," he said.

"We already have some technology that provides call identification, but the new system will improve the efficiency of that."

The LFB also wants to introduce "dynamic mobilising" so that the nearest fire engine is automatically sent to an incident.

"Now we base the vehicle sent out on the nearest fire station, which may not be the nearest fire appliance," said Anthony. "Using automatic vehicle location, we will know where the nearest appliance is, irrespective of which station the appliance belongs to."

The Capita-run control system will be run from LFB's current control centre in Merton, which was originally intended to be one of nine regional control rooms set up for 20-25 years under FireControl.

Anthony said that the brigade moved into the Merton building in January, with an arrangement with the Department for Communities and Local Government to pay two-thirds of the cost of the lease.

"Another key thing is that we have our main control system on a fall-back system, but we want to work with other fire services so we can share fall-back and resilience, which will improve services and reduce costs," said Anthony.

"We will be working with Capita to achieve these aims."

This article was originally published at Government Computing.

Government Computing covers the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. For updates on public sector IT, join the Government Computing Network here.

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