Fire service readies for dramatic boost in GIS users

Anticipating a tough fire season again this summer the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) is planning to upgrade its Geographical Information Systems (GIS) strategy and a call for tenders is likely next month.

Kelvin Wise, GIS manager at the fire service, said $1.3 million will be made available for the software upgrade to extend GIS from the current 150 users to 30,000 users in a bid to meet greater operational demands.

Effective IT tools are crucial to effective fire fighting and Wise said tenders may go out in November or the service will simply extend the GIS software already in place from MapInfo.

He said the decision to call for tenders to extend the software already in place will be made in coming weeks.

While he said MapInfo Professional has been effective, Wise indicated a preference for multiple vendors to be involved in the GIS strategy.

Wise is aiming to have the new strategy in place by February 2003.

"GIS forms the basis of our planning as it provides information on urban bushland, vegetation and property boundaries across the State. We need pretty sophisticated modelling and analysis," he said.

The RFS, which has 2400 brigades of some 70,000 volunteers in addition to 482 permanent staff, is already battling tough conditions with the service fighting more than 100 fires in recent weeks.

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