The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Command and Control Mobilising System (CCMS)
Inspection Findings - The performance and resilience of the existing CCMSs
20. In a FRS control room, the technical systems and equipment used need to be fit for purpose and interoperability between control rooms allows resilience arrangements to operate. We examined the position in the three SFRS control rooms.
21. The two main components of each OC’s CCMS are an Integrated Communications Control System (ICCS) for radio and telephony and a Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system for mobilising, gazetteer and mapping - along with peripheral supporting systems such as on call resource availability.
22. It should be mentioned that there has been some investment in SFRS infrastructure in recent years relative to the planned implementation of Systel. It is understood this work and investment has not been wasted and it is envisaged that this will facilitate any new CCMS implementation. Examples of this infrastructure include standardisation of station-end equipment and network capability (WAN – Wide Area Network) and the rationalisation of call-signs programme. There has also been the implementation of SIP (Session Initiation Protocol), which improves resilience by having links to more than one telephone exchange. SIP is not yet functional at Dundee OC (DOC) and Edinburgh OC (EOC) due to the inflexibility of current systems.
Dundee OC (DOC)
23. The system at DOC is Vision, which is a combined ICCS and CAD system. The system is newer than those in place at Johnstone OC (JOC) and EOC. However, being originally installed in 2006 it is still considered an old system and relies on old hardware which has become difficult to source replacement parts for.
24. The system is a different version of the Vision system in place at EOC, though is supported by the same supplier under the same support contract. Due to being a different version than at EOC, there is no interoperability potential between the systems.
25. There have been significant issues in recent years regarding the integrated telephony system at DOC which resulted in considerable attention by SFRS ICT and the support contractor to rectify.
26. A decision has been made to limit the volume of data on the system to improve resilience. The result being that some address related information is held separate to the system itself, which has involved a manual element for operators.
27. DOC has an integrated ICCS, which means there is a single point of failure. If any part of the system fails, it all fails. However, the arrangements in place at the Dundee Standby facility is a standalone ICCS, which gives more flexibility if one part of the system fails.
Johnstone OC (JOC)
28. The systems in place at JOC are Motorola Procad and Capita/Sungard. The systems generally function as required and allow JOC to carry out the required functions in the West SDA.
29. The CCMS at JOC was inherited from legacy arrangements and was adapted when the West SDA OCs merged in 2014. This resulted in some loss of functionality and some manual processes for OC personnel were implemented as a consequence. An example of this is OC staff having to manually update certain availability at change of shift, which was an automated process previously.
30. The system is now considered to be old technology, although the software itself is understood to be fairly reliable in terms of its stability. However, the hardware is dated and finding replacement parts when required is likely to be difficult to achieve, time consuming and costly.
31. The SFRS has a support contract in place with Motorola. The Service has some concerns around the availability of expertise to provide support in the long term.
Edinburgh OC (EOC)
32. The Systems at EOC consist of Northgate ICCS and Vision CAD system.
33. There are a number of manual processes which have become practice for operators handling emergency calls. This is mainly as a result of the merging of legacy control rooms in 2016 and the inflexibility of not being able to incorporate elements of other legacy CCMS into the current system. There is understood to have been some upgrade to the current system in 2016 as part of the merger process.
34. The server which hosts the CCMS for EOC had not been restarted for six months at the time of our visit in late December 2022. This is due to concerns over the system’s resilience following previous difficulties which arose when attempting to carry out this process. All required changes have been stored to allow update in due course. A decision has not yet been communicated on when and how the server will be updated. As a result of this, there are six months’ worth of information and data which has not been uploaded onto the system. This includes information on Flexi Duty Officers’ details and certain mobilising instructions. All amendments to be added are communicated to personnel, but this results in control staff having to refer to various sources of information, some paper-led as a work around. We were advised that the system does not often fail on its own.
35. EOC is working on Vision version 3. A support contract is in place with SSS Public Safety. Version 3 is an older system relying on ageing hardware.
36. In addition to the system failure risk due to age, the control room suite has major building issues with rainwater ingress which poses a risk to resilience.