we now can track patients from
the [incident] site to when they
get to the emergency room.
doNald STaNToN, ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER,
NEW YORK CITY FIRE DEPARTMENT
Tell me about the Fire department operations Center
(FdoC). Stanton: It’s built out with I T and radio capabilities. Before 9/11, it was more of a notification center.
But right now, we get video feeds into the center. We
get helicopter feeds from NYPD. We have agreements
with a number of news stations to supply their raw helicopter feeds. We have connections to the [Metropolitan
Transportation Authority] and high-tech connections to
Benanti: For example, [during the 2009 landing of a
jet on the Hudson River], we were able to watch all the
feeds and were monitoring operations from the FDOC.
Stanton: We have a lot of different people who could
be involved in a rescue operation. We had people on the
scene managing the incident, but we were able to, from
here, look at the feeds and see how we were picking up
people. People here might have been able to see something that you couldn’t pick up on the scene. In a mass
casualty incident, we now can track patients from the
site to when they get to the emergency room.
Continued from page 10
what are the challenges of developing and deploying
software for such a specialized workforce? Stanton:
The main thing we want to do is get the end user involved, to make sure we have the requirements properly
documented and then do extensive testing to make sure
the application is working properly.
Benanti: For the most part, a need will be identified
by the uniformed staff. They’ll work with the technology people, who are almost all civilians, to best fit the
need. We have a project management office that will
map out what needs to be done, and we’ll look at what
technology is out there, and then we kind of match it up.
Tell me about the FdNY Geographic information
Systems unit. Stanton: GIS is a very important part of
our operations. It can give us the locations of various
buildings, building plans, locations of hazardous
materials, finding various infrastructure, such as fire
hydrants. It can check hospital availability.
what about mobile technology? Benanti: We’re piloting tablets. We use them with our electronic command
board and patient tracking systems. We’ve got them
out to a number of [fire] companies to test them. We’re
trying to evaluate how they’re working.
Stanton: The firefighting environment is not like a
standard user. The volume of water and smoke and how
it’s used, it has to be much more ruggedized, and we
have to make sure it stands up before we roll it out.
how are tablets used in the field? Stanton: During the
9/11 incident, fire units were tracked on a manual board,
and when the buildings came down, we lost that information. We can use the tablets to electronically track these
units, and it’s backhauled to the fire operations center.
what other key pieces of technology have you deployed
that you consider particularly critical? Benanti: We’re
updating our field unit building inspections. We never
had all our building information in one database, so we
created a data warehouse solely for building inspection information. That’s now all in that system along
with information from other city agencies. In the past,
when firefighters have done their inspections, they’ve
been based on a schedule. But what we’re getting to is
coming up with a code and program to do inspections
by risk. The data warehouse can shoot out what the
biggest-risk buildings are. The higher-risk buildings will
be looked at first. We’re piloting this. We also developed an automatic vehicle location system. We put this
technology into the [computer-aided dispatch] system,
so when [callers] say where they are, there’s software in
the dispatch system that allows us to find the best route
for the right ambulance to get to that location. And we
just finished installing kiosks. They’re basically PCs in
the firehouse, a larger-screen PC. We had PCs for the
officers, but now, by putting them in each of the kitchens, firefighters can get on and receive training.
what’s the most promising upcoming technology for
your field? Benanti: One thing we haven’t been able
to do is track a firefighter within a building. We have
tracking technology but we’re not able to track them
[vertically]. The Z is the vertical coordinate, and that
hasn’t been developed yet. Once we get the Z coordinate, that’s a huge piece for the fire department.
– Interview by Computerworld contributing writer
mary K. pratt ( firstname.lastname@example.org)