THE PUBLIC ASSOCIATES the Fire Services for putting down structure fires but there are a whole lot of other aspects to the organisation, says Murray Mitchell, head of ICT at the NZ Fire Service.
Mitchell notes while firefighting service remains the organisation’s primary responsibility, it is increasingly taking on other roles in the community, like responding to hazardous material incidents, medicals, urban rescue and natural disasters.
This expanding role of the NZ Fire Service is evidenced by the range of projects the ICT team will undertake in upcoming months.
Mitchell leads a team of 38, and they provide the business technology platforms to meet the needs of 2800 staff and 8,300 volunteers.
Mitchell says ICT budgets, projects and staff numbers are forecast to increase by up to 10 per cent this year. Their key projects include incident ground radios, paving the foundations for mobility systems, an intranet app and Citrix and Exchange upgrades.
He says the organisation will move to to cloud-based Azure, with Microsoft Office 365 in place. He is currently building the foundations for the new mobility system, which include the Data Hub, enterprise service bus and development framework for mobility.
Over the past year, he says the biggest improvement for the organisation that was delivered by the ICT team was deployment of an urban search and rescue mobile solution that was cloud based using mobile technology and for which NZ Fire achieved accreditation through the United Nations process. “These are very significant steps in improving global response to natural disasters,” says Mitchell.
He says Fire Services will have further investments around cloud services, VoIP/unified communications, content management, social media and digital.