Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service
Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service Secures and Persists On-Vehicle Devices with Absolute
Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service (DWFRS) has 50 fire stations serving local communities in the counties of Dorset and Wiltshire, England. Crews are available to respond to emergency calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. DWFRS works hard to protect its local communities, often working with partners to reduce the risk of fire wherever possible. Firefighters use Panasonic Toughbooks for vital communication and mobile access to risk and technical information during incident response and Community Safety activities.
- Track, manage, repair, and recover 140 mobile devices
- Ensure tamper-proof security and privacy of sensitive information
- Demonstrate ability to freeze and wipe devices
DWFRS deploys 200 Panasonic Toughbook CF-33 devices across its fleet of fire appliances. Each appliance has a fixed Toughbook mounted in the front and a demountable one in the back. 40 specialist vehicles are supplied an Android TomTom device. Crews use these devices for critical communication and essential risk information when responding to incidents. They hold key incident response data forms, standard operating procedures, essential operational information, vehicle schematics, chemical and hazardous materials database, water supplies and Ordnance Survey mapping, as well as providing a critical communication platform back to the Control room.
Making sure crews can quickly log in and communicate securely at the scene has been a challenge as prior technology required a cumbersome authentication and login process — which took too much time when responding to emergencies. Devices were hard to track and there was always the risk of theft or unintended loss. DWFRS improved login processes, but was still challenged by a need to guarantee device security.
“We evaluated several track-and-freeze vendors, but it was our Panasonic Rep who introduced us to Absolute,” said Daniel Grew, Mobile Data Technology Manager at DWFRS. Absolute is installed in the BIOS at the manufacturer and simply needs to be activated on devices. It was already in the Toughbook CF-33s that firefighters were using.
“The real difference for me was that Absolute’s Persistence technology cannot be uninstalled. If a device is lost and someone tries to wipe the operating system and install a new one, Absolute reinstalls itself. I can track and freeze every device no matter what happens to it,” said Daniel. In addition to Toughbooks, the service has other mobile devices to secure and uses Absolute to do so.
All UK Emergency Services are undergoing a digital transformation and will soon be moving to 4G which will allow them to move from texting to streaming information. Activating Absolute is part of DWFRS’ strategy in advance of this shift.
“For me, deploying Absolute is about assurance. I don’t have to worry. I get alerts when a device leaves a boundary and alerts if someone is using too much data on hard drive. Absolute lets me report back that if we are ever in a situation, I have the confidence that I can remote freeze it,” said Daniel.
“We were concerned about software suppliers who sell and then ignore you, Absolute is one of those companies that just want to help. Absolute offers support and has been proactive in responding to our needs, that’s something I really appreciate,” Daniel said. “There is so much more that Absolute offers, but I haven’t had the time yet to look into those functionalities. I’m looking forward to doing that. Right now, assurance and confidence is key to me.”