Donation of software and discounted hardware for the Bolton MRT Incident Control vehicle

As regular readers will know, the progress of our Incident Control vehicle is gathering pace, with especially rapid progress over the past two weeks in the IT & communications areas.

As part of the fit, the vehicle will be equipped with two high-spec computers which will be used for digital mapping, personnel tracking, and search management functions.

Whilst the computer hardware comes at a “hard” cost, much of it has been provided at a discount, with thanks, from dabs.com PLC, who in June 2012 donated the sum of £1,693.49 to the team following a series of charity dress-down days. dabs.com provided these “bare-bone” computers to meet the specific requirements of the new team vehicle – low power, few moving parts, large storage capacity, highly compact, and a fast start-up time. Quite a tall order, but it was met (with special thanks to Phil & Dunc at dabs.com for their advice to Bolton MRT team member and dabs.com employee Steve Fletcher)

In respect of the computer software, the team took advantage of an excellent arrangement with the Charity Technology Exchange (CTX), who work in partnership with the not-for-profit technology capacity building organisation TechSoup. Through this programme, eligible UK-based charities are able to request donated technology products from partners such as Microsoft, Symantec and Cisco. The products include operating system software and server software, security software and hardware products such as switches, routers, wireless equipment and firewalls. Through the CTX programme, Bolton MRT purchased a suite of Microsoft software for the Incident Control vehicle, and also to upgrade the team’s existing PCs. For a small handling fee of £106.80, the team has benefited from approximately £2,120 of software donated by Microsoft.

Other software to be installed onto the computers includes the excellent MRMap personnel tracking system, by Dave Binks of Duddon & Furness MRT, and Mapyx Quo – coupled with the Mapyx SARMAN incident management program, which is provided free of charge, by Mapyx, to MRTs in England & Wales. Both of these programs benefit hugely from the donation of UK-wide digital mapping data which is provided free-of-charge by Ordnance Survey to MRTs in England & Wales, from scales of 1:10,000 through to 1:250,000 and everything in between!

In the communications area, the vehicle will be equipped with three Simoco SRM9000 radios sourced from our regular supplier, Commercial Radio of Cardiff, whose technical expertise and liaison with the manufacturer, Simoco, is second to none (such excellent liaison certainly benefited us during the fit-out of our new Land Rover ambulances in February 2011!).

Radio antennas have been sourced by our usual supplier, Panorama Antennas, who manufacture and supply the antennas direct to us with a considerable (and very appreciated) discount to MR teams. The specification of the comms arrangements in any C3 vehicle is a hugely complicated affair with a large number of wireless services to support in a small place (GPS receivers, 3G/GSM “dongles”, TETRA, the usual Mountain Rescue VHF radio system, and nowadays Wi-Fi comms), and Panorama’s expertise in making sure that we have the correct antennas for this complicated configuration has been hugely appreciated.

The equipment will be handed over to the specialist coach building company Coleman Milne this week for installation into the Incident Control vehicle, which is currently on the Coleman Milne production line.

Please also see website ‘News’ reports dated 29th January 2013, 5th February 2013 and 26th February 2013.