NZ Fire Service defines IT future

The New Zealand Fire Service is embarking on a three- to five-year effort to overhaul the organisation's IT systems as a ministerial review promises far-reaching changes for the organisation.The Service is developing an enterprise architecture plan to define a blueprint for its technology emphasising increased consolidation, reduced maintenance costs and improved integration.

The New Zealand Fire Service is embarking on a three- to five-year effort to overhaul the organisation's IT systems as a ministerial review promises far-reaching changes for the organisation.

The Service is developing an enterprise architecture plan to define a blueprint for its technology emphasising increased consolidation, reduced maintenance costs and improved integration.

In May the Minister for Internal Affairs, Rick Barker, announced he was planning a workshop to review the future shape and funding of the service. That review aims to create a more integrated brigade structure embracing fire, rescue and other services.

-Thirty-year-old fire legislation is outdated and is focused almost solely on fire, rather than a wider rescue role. And our system of fire management is not well suited to our future needs," Mr Barker said.

However, Fire Service chief financial officer Brett Warwick said the architecture project was largely separate from those changes.

-We are making sure what we've got is a robust IT network that can take account of any changes that take place," he said.

The architecture development had been planned for a while, before the Minister's review, but was delayed until an IT strategist vacancy was filled over Christmas, Warwick said.

In addition to increasing integration, the architecture initiative is expected to simplify data maintenance and bring the service into compliance with the Emergency Services Administration (ESA) standard.

ESA is a standard for geospatial information developed by the Officials' Committee of Geospatial Information. In May last year the government made the gradual implementation of the standard mandatory across the public-sector.

The Fire Service has two key systems that contain data to which the standard will apply. This data has to be moved from the New Zealand Map Grid, introduced in 1972, to the New Zealand Transverse Mercator, adopted by Land Information New Zealand for future topographic mapping.

As part of the architecture development, the Service will analyse the advantages and disadvantages of the various technical options, including database versus application-based spatial analysis and management.

The Service's database platform may also be up for grabs. Both Microsoft SQL and Oracle have a footprint in the organization, but the project will analyse the benefits of consolidating on one system or even moving to a third option.