Government to launch online emergency service

An intranet has been piloted by the Cabinet Office for coordinating responses to terrorism and national emergencies
Written by Wendy McAuliffe, Contributor

The Cabinet Office is planning to launch an Internet-based emergency planning service in March. The intranet will be available to emergency services and government departments for coordinating local and national responses to terrorist attacks and other major disasters.

The HAZMOD Intranet (HI), a Web-based geographical information system (GIS), is currently under development by the Civil Contingency Secretariat at the Cabinet Office. It will provide the British emergency community with GIS maps, population data, boundary data, built-in customised tools, and various databases.

According to a report in E-Government Bulletin, the system combines two existing software packages. The Hazard Prediction and Assessment Capability system has been developed by the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency, and ArcIMS, a GIS, was designed by mapping specialists ESRI.

A trial of the HI system began in late October 2000 and ended in early May 2001. The pilot involved 50 test users from six local authorities, as well as the Greater Manchester Public Health Authority, States of Guernsey Civil Defence Committee and the government's Emergency Planning Centre. All participants expressed their support for full rollout and further development of the system.

The government is now looking into a way of providing the service via the Internet, so that users connected to corporate networks will not have to reconfigure their PCs in order to dial-up to HI. Emergency departments around the country will be able to access the system under a username and password control.

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