When facing the challenge of mass urbanisation, cities need to quickly and effectively respond to emergencies and incidents. At the same time, cities need to do more with fewer resources. Metros and municipalities are constantly driving towards becoming smarter, however, before they can be smart, they need to be safe.
The City of Cape Town is well on its way to becoming the safest in the country. When Cape Town’s EPIC (Emergency Policing and Incident Command) programme goes live, it will be the first of its kind in South Africa, providing an integrated public safety initiative that facilitates co-ordinated multi-disciplinary preparation, mitigation, response, and successful timeous resolution of all public safety incidents in the city.
The programme, an initiative in partnership with the City of Cape Town’s Safety and Security Directorate, has been developed over the past two years using the expertise of leading technology solution provider EOH.
EPIC uses SAP technology and spatial real-time mapping to integrate the Directorate’s six emergency and policing services onto one common platform, facilitating collaboration and co-ordination across the multiple agencies. Emma Stavrakis, EOH’s head of public safety and security, says that while many cities have focused on becoming smart, few have drawn the balance between safe cities and smart cities.
Incorporating six primary public safety and security service providers across disaster management, fire and rescue, as well as policing, onto one single integrated technology platform, this programme will revolutionise and dramatically improve the delivery of services in Cape Town’s public safety environment, according to Stavrakis.
“In today’s challenging public safety environment, the ability to understand and respond to the needs of the public is essential. Greater preparedness, improved awareness and effective resource utilisation all lead to enhanced resilience. This is the core of a strategy that will transition the city towards providing an environment that is safer and healthier for everyone,” she explains.
According to Cape Town’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, JP Smith, the programme will provide the city’s response teams with an integrated and immediate multi-disciplinary response with accurate, up-to-the-minute situational awareness possible across all the city’s public safety services. These include fire and rescue, traffic, metro police, law enforcement, disaster risk management and the special investigative unit.
“For the public this means quick and efficient response to any emergency they report, efficient dispatching of the resources to the event and proper command and control for the heads of these services,” Smith says.
He adds that a unified safety and security system is good news for the City of Cape Town’s vast metropolitan area, which is responsible for a resident population of over 3.8 million people, an annual tourist count of 4.2 million and more than 60 000 businesses. Smith explains that previously, various departments operated as separate entities, making effective responses difficult, especially in large-scale disaster incidents like the devastating widespread fires experienced in 2012.
Technology is now helping the city work smarter, and stay safer. “Now, field officers closest to the incident will always have the correct information and be able to respond efficiently within a few minutes while having access to any information they need,” says Smith.
Former paramedic and fire fighter Andrew Mortimer, EOH’s public safety specialist, explains that the EPIC programme is based on the EOH Emergency Suite. This is a single integrated public safety solution that enables all the city emergency and policing departments to register and manage their activities.
From the emergency responder to the dispatcher, EPIC assists the department to ensure the most appropriate response is provided to the citizen, while mobile field enablement provides officers in the field with the necessary technology to be effective and remain safe.
Mobility also ensures that officers are able to work smarter, reducing the amount of time in the office. Enhanced business intelligence is provided by the reporting solution, improving decision-making and strategy execution in real time. Investigative case management provides a solution to bring all of the data together and improve accountability in all areas.
Thanks to EPIC, an emergency responder in a centralised call centre can answer emergency calls from citizens dialling 107 from a landline or (021) 480 7700 from a cellphone. In addition, the city’s various safety and security departments and agencies can also log incidents directly on the EPIC system from their automated systems.
The Command Centre then dispatches field officers via a customised mobile app to a mobile phone device that is installed in city safety and security vehicles. Once field officers have dealt with the incident, the status and an incident update are logged onsite via the mobile device. This includes uploading photo and video information, updating the system in the command centres. Here, all incident details are recorded in the EPIC database for further analysis.
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