NZ Fire Services gets IT overhaul

Having spent years wrestling with a "difficult" IT environment of standalone PCs and paper-based systems, the New Zealand Fire Service is giving its systems a major overhaul.

Having spent years wrestling with a “difficult” IT environment of standalone PCs and paper-based systems, the New Zealand Fire Service is giving its systems a major overhaul.

Apart from a new wide area network linking more 450 firestations and offices throughout the country, the NZFS is planning to roll out a range of corporate information systems by the end of the year including payroll and human resources by Rebus, a Cronus rostering application and a financial management information system that is currently out for tender. A new national online fire incident reporting systems is also being developed in-house.

The new network uses Citrix MetaFrame to give 1600 firefighters and 438 management and administrative staff access to the service’s central information systems and desktop applications such as Microsoft Office, Exchange and Access.

Before the new WAN only a few NZFS offices had LANS and most PCs were standalone, while few applications or procedures were standardised, says NZFS manager of information technology strategy Alan Thompson.

Without a national email system, most interoffice communication was done by post, fax and phone.

Thompson says it was an extremely difficult environment to manage and support on a national basis, with software being loaded with few controls in place.

“Citrix MetaFrame has provided us with the ability to establish centralised deployment and management of our information systems. We now have an affordable and manageable platform to enable us to develop and roll out information systems to the entire fire service - right out to firestation and firefighter level.”

Using MetaFrame has also helped the fire service justify the cost of connecting volunteer firefighters to the national WAN. Thompson says 365 volunteer stations will connected using dial-up and VPN (virtual private network) technology by the end of September.

Systems integrator gen-i designed and implemented the system.

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