News & Media

From the CO – use of smartphone apps

By: Joe Buffone

Category: Other

  9.06 AM 17 February, 2016


Location: General

Views: 9145

The use of smartphone apps has been raised by members with increasing frequency as their popularity increases and application provider charging models change.

CFA’s position with respect to smartphone apps, such as BART, is consistent with the broader emergency service sector, namely that paging through the Emergency Alerting System (EAS) is the primary means of incident notification and dispatch for CFA, Ambulance Victoria and VICSES.

The Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority (ESTA), which manages EAS on behalf of the emergency services, also has contingency systems and processes in place if the EAS network experiences failures or problems. At the moment, ESTA and the emergency services and management agencies do not endorse primary alerting systems outside of EAS because they are dependent on commercial mobile networks that cannot guarantee the delivery of a message.

Emergency services recognise that smartphone apps have features and capabilities that appeal to members. Ways to enhance current systems and technology are being looked into as part of the development of the long-term communications plan for the emergency services sector. 

CFA has equally been taking a proactive approach and, along with ESTA, is exploring the possibility of providing a computer-aided dispatch data feed that could be made available to application providers under strict conditions. If this approach was adopted, policies and supporting standard operating procedures (SOPs) would be required to govern the use of such applications. It is possible that this could be in place for the 2016-17 fire season, but it is reliant on whole-of-sector endorsement through the Emergency Services Leadership Group.

In the interim, where members or brigades choose to use smartphone-based turnout systems, these should be seen as supplementary systems, recognising that they do not meet current emergency service performance standards.

CFA is not in a position to use corporate funds to support smartphone app subscriptions and charges. Brigades that choose to use brigade-owned funds for smartphone apps need to be able to justify to their communities the investment of community-owned funds for this purpose. Brigades will make their own decisions about expenditure and priority within current policies and through their own governance. Any brigade expenditure such as vehicles, equipment, administration and communications is justified within each community the brigade serves.

CFA continues to work toward ways to adopt smartphone applications as well as harness other emerging technologies that members view as valuable, balanced against requirements, reliability, functionality and strategic fit.

Further enquires about smartphone-based turnout systems should be directed to your line manager in the first instance.

Last Updated: 17 February 2016