Hampshire Fire & Rescue Service is to introduce a VoIP (voice over internet protocol) facility for its 1,935 staff based at various locations across the county.
In common with much of the business VoIP capability currently being acquired by many commercial firms in both the UK and around the world, Hampshire Fire & Rescue Service’s VoIP service will rely on access to a high speed broadband cable network; in Hampshire Fire Service’s case, this will be in the form of a recently installed public sector network (PSN) – itself utilising high-speed fibre-optic cables already laid down by Virgin Media Business.
The PSN network will provide a communications link between 51 fire stations across the region, and will in turn link all 51 of these stations to a central command and control headquarters based in Eastleigh.
Just as with most business VoIP and commercial internet protocol (IP) telephony initiatives – and a leading reason why an increasing number of firms are currently eagerly seeking the advice of a business VoIP provider or VoIP reseller – Hampshire Fire Service’s venture into VoIP is expected to result in considerable savings on its annual phone costs. When combined with the Service’s planned use of videoconferencing over the same PSN network, it is estimated that these cost savings will be in the region of £80,000 per annum.
It is also hoped that the proposed new VoIP service will build on IP telephony trials already carried out by Hampshire Fire & Rescue Service in conjunction with its neighbouring fire emergency organization, Kent Fire Services (which has access to a PSN of its own).
According to Hampshire Fire & Rescue Service’s head of ICT, Neil Moore, ‘the development of more PSN-compliant Networks by other local authorities’ – with possible VoIP adoption – is a feature he ‘would expect to see in the near future’.