The government has confirmed that it is to introduce a digital standard aimed at improving incident response times by standardising IT system interfaces and equipment between emergency services.
The government said the open standard will enhance public safety by improving response times; creating a single data exchange in the emergency responder community; streamlining the flow of incident information between agencies; allowing control centres to communicate in real time and without restriction; and forming a common operating picture to enable shared situational awareness.
The agreed open standard is the result of a six-year project led by the Cabinet Office and Government Digital Service (GDS).
The project included fire, police, ambulance, coastguard, and mountain rescue services, as well as the Department for Transport, local authorities and major suppliers.
Work on the open standard started as a trial between the emergency services and Capita in Wales in 2015. The results of this trial showed that when a common communications approach is used across emergency services, it significantly improved response times.
The Multi Agency Incident Transfer (MAIT) system, the government says, is designed to increase the speed and efficiency of emergency services responses, especially for serious and complicated rescue missions that require cross-service support.
Cabinet Office Minister Matt Hancock said: “When we heard that some control centres would rely on fax machines to communicate with each other during an emergency situation, something had to be done.
“Improving digital communications is a crucial step, and the valuable work, conducted by the Government in partnership with the emergency services will make a tangible difference across the UK in times of emergency or crisis.”