About East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service
ESFRS is a public-funded body responsible for providing fire and rescue services for citizens of East Sussex and the city of Brighton and Hove. Operating across 26 sites, ESFRS serves a local population of 750,000 people and responds to more than 14,000 emergency calls each year. ESFRS has a statutory obligation to respond to road and traffic collisions and accidents, chemical emergencies, major accident hazards, rescues, large-scale emergencies at local level, flooding and decontamination.
The Information Management Department (IMD) at ESFRS is responsible for providing Information Technology Services to the organisation, namely: Network Services, Development Services, Customer Services, IT Training, Business Services and Document Services. The challenge for the IMD is to ensure effective and unified communications throughout the whole organisation.
The Information Management Strategy for 2008/09 approved by the Corporate Management Team called for the creation of a new intranet that would integrate with a range of Web-based collaboration applications.
"We saw an opportunity to exploit some of the new collaboration technologies such as blogs, wikis and online workspaces to help our colleagues coordinate their efforts and work together more effectively," said John Reynolds, Network Services Manager (IMD) at ESFRS. "The ability to collaborate on projects is particularly important to our Development Services team, which has an enormous development workload to manage."
Selection Services, a Platinum PartnerSM, recommended using Vibe® (formerly Novell Teaming + Conferencing) as a platform for sharing information. The IMD has initially implemented the software in a pilot environment accessible to selected groups and teams, to help evolve best practice prior to a formal launch.
Vibe will enable staff at ESFRS to create shared workspaces that can be easily accessed through the intranet. As a result, staff will be able to collaborate more easily, even if they are working on different shifts or at different locations.
Other potential uses for Vibe at ESFRS include the creation of knowledge bases for a wide range of fire and rescue related subjects. The Conferencing capabilities will be used to assist with training and troubleshooting.
"Our staff are already seeing the benefits of the Vibe features—especially within the software development team," said Einar Arnarson, Systems Developer. "We can set milestones, assign tasks and work to service level agreements much more easily than with an e-mail or paper-based system. Vibe is helping us to better manage our workload."
ESFRS has also deployed ZENworks®, which helps keep its 430 PC workstations secure and manages access to applications.
"It is common for fire service workers to be sent from one site to another," said Reynolds. "To ensure that people can work wherever they are, we use ZENworks to give users access to their own applications on any PC in any station."
Vibe is now part of the unified communications strategy at ESFRS, and as use of the solution spreads through the ESFRS user community, the organisation expects to see measurable benefits.
"In the software development team, we anticipate an increase in productivity through the use of Vibe," said Arnarson. "Everyone knows exactly what their responsibilities are, and can easily find 'how-to' guides and project status information. The Novell (now a part of Micro Focus) solution also provides a clear audit trail, helping to track errors and reduces workload issues."
"Vibe is helping us achieve our objective of boosting productivity throughout the organisation," said Reynolds. "In addition, the Strategic Enterprise Agreement enables us to make savings on the normal licensing cost for the software."
ESFRS is keen to offer its expertise to its peers within UK; and share the benefits that the wider adoption of Vibe could bring to the whole community.
"We believe that technology like Vibe and ZENworks will enable people to work more flexibly and effectively," said Reynolds. "Ultimately it's all about getting better value for public money. By improving collaboration, we can increase efficiency while reducing costs."