Industry Research : Quick Flick-through for Emergency Calls
As the link between the community and emergency services organisations for Victoria, the Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority handles a lot of data. The government authority, which started operations in 2005, takes 1.8 million 000 emergency calls each year. It manages calls for the State Emergency Service, Victoria Police, the Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services Board, Ambulance Victoria and the Country Fire Authority.
ESTA technology and communications general manager Mark Powell said a lot of bespoke point-to-point interfaces had been in use. "Our objective is to provide our customers, the emergency services organisations, with timely access to their data so they can manage their business processes, support continuous improvement and continue to get the best possible outcomes for members of the Victorian community."
ESTA runs three state emergency control centres, two in Melbourne and one in regional Victoria. It has about 600 staff, including 37 full-time staff in the information technology group. "We have a large number of functioning point-to-point interfaces. However, every time one of our ESO customers wants to get extra data or change how that data is provided, they have to come back centrally to us."
The strategy was to give control directly to the organisations. "Our customers told us that a key for them was agile and cost-effective access to their own data," Mr Powell said.
ESTA decided to refresh the infrastructure in the mission-critical around-the-clock environment. It engaged Dell as a strategic partner for an undisclosed cost. ESTA's mission-critical environment runs on Dell infrastructure and has been supported by Dell from the call centre to the data centre. In the call centre environment, ESTA runs 40 PowerEdge R710 servers, including physical and virtual, in a VMware environment. It also has 225 Precision T1500 workstations. Dell also provides ProSupport support services for the servers and workstations. It also undertook the replacement of the old hardware, and provides lifecycle management.
In its corporate environment, ESTA has 10 PowerEdge R710 servers, physical and virtual, in a VMware environment, 120 OptiPlex desktops, 30 Latitude E6510 laptops and additional support services. Dell is also responsible for ESTA's software enterprise licence agreements.
All calls to ESTA's call centre are recorded using an Intergraph application and the data is held in an Oracle database. "The information received from an emergency 000 call is stored in the production database, the database is then interrogated, with relevant data passed to the Microsoft BizTalk middleware product and all of that process is supported on Dell infrastructure," Mr Powell said. "Then the BizTalk product pushes the information out to our customers."
Mr Powell said real-time access was also a priority for the emergency organisations. "So when a call is received by ESTA, and the data goes into the database, within five seconds that same information is available to our customers to help their processes."
The project was initiated about 13 months ago and took 10 months to complete. ESTA, which has the generic platform in place, in January completed the first pilot with Ambulance Victoria in January. It expects to go live in June with a major initiative for Victoria Police. Mr Powell said maintenance savings in the first year would probably amount to 20 per cent of the cost of the project.
"We are expecting to be able to consolidate our environment," he said. "We are expecting to be able to offer a service level-based data provision to our ESOs and the data that they get will be real-time, sub-four-seconds."
The zero disruption to the organisation was achieved by testing in a separate environment prior to moving to the production environment. Mr Powell said the goal was to have five data feeds to SES, Victoria Police, the fire brigade, ambulance services and CFA and have all of their real-time data delivered to them all of the time. "The ESOs have a vision, and that is where they would like to get to as well, but it is where it is cost-effective and practical that is where we'll be looking to do it."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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