Open service standard for emergency services agreed

The government has agreed an open service standard for emergency services, aimed at helping to standardise ICT interfaces and equipment.

The Cabinet Office and Government Digital Services have negotiated the standards with fire, police, ambulance, coastguard, and mountain rescue services, as well as the Department for Transport, local authorities and major suppliers.

A trial on the open standard took place last year in Wales, which the government said proved that a common communications approach significantly improves response times.
Cabinet Office minister Matthew Hancock, said: “When we heard that some control centres would rely on fax machines to communicate with each other during an emergency situation – something had to be done.

“Improving digital communications is a crucial step and the valuable work, conducted by government in partnership with the emergency services, will make a tangible difference across the UK in times of emergency or crisis.”

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Hancock said that the new standard would create a single data exchange between services, streamline the flow of incident information and allow control centres to communicate in real time without restriction.

It will enhance public safety by forming a common operating picture to help emergency services get a better understanding of an incident, the government said.

Charles Ball, HM Coastguard head of coastal operations, said: “As the only national emergency service it is vital that we have a common standard and common procedure when dealing with our sister services.

“This joined up thinking is vital if we are to deliver safety and security to the British public and provide for people in need at sea and on land.”

Colin Marrs

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