South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue (SYFR) has become the first public body to use a new service called OnDemand Web Map Tile Service from Ordnance Survey (OS), which it says will help it fight and prevent fires.
The service from OS provides accurate geographical information, such as the location of fire hydrants and details on sites to which firefighters may be called, and is accessed via the web.
SYFR will pay an annual £1,500 license fee to Ordnance Survey for the tool, but the datasets – comprising the maps – will be free under the Public Service Mapping Agreement (a 10-year deal to make most OS products free to the public sector).
OnDemand Web Map Tile Service will link in to SYFR's back-office and web-based applications to provide a single view of its own location data plotted on OS maps.
A spokesperson for OS explained that users will be able to stream map data showing details down to the roadside curb, including pylons and postboxes. Users can overlay their own information over the top.
"Customers often want to add their own specific features; for example, SYFR might want to add hydrants, or BT might want to add green boxes for networking systems," he said.
The tool will also be used for fire prevention in the community, as SYFR intends to plot actual incidents against other datasets, such as community safety activity.
Assistant chief fire officer Neil Hessell said it will help his teams to plan and analyse their work.
"Advanced mapping techniques help us plan how we deliver our services and analyse and report on our work. This new service will allow us to do that more accurately and efficiently."
He added that it will be used across the organisation and not just by frontline firefighters.
"For the first time, the whole organisation – be it firefighters on station or community safety officers planning work to prevent emergencies – will be able to access this information to make sure our work is as effective and targeted as can be."
SYFR has already linked the service to its Incident Recording System and has used it to allow station personnel to query and correct the location of incidents where the address is uncertain.
The fire service hopes to use the OS service to provide a tool to enable the publication of incident statistics in line with its desire to increase transparency of data.