A new platform from the software company GINA is intended to simplify and speed up interventions requiring cooperation between Czech and German firefighters. Thanks to the combination of call tablets in fire trucks and software, the arrival time of firefighters at the scene of a fire or other emergency in the border region will be reduced. Situations where firefighters from the other state are closer to the incident despite being on the opposite side of the border are also being considered. The German and Czech sides will also be able to exchange real-time information. The use of different languages is not an obstacle either; the system overcomes the language barrier and ensures the most accurate transfer of information.
When the operations centre receives information about an incident, the dispatcher enters the location and other relevant information into the GINA System and sends the alert not only to the designated firefighting units but also to managers, spokespeople, or representatives of the authorities concerned. In the case of cross-border cooperation, the information will also reach the relevant operations centre of the neighbouring country, which will send additional units if necessary.
This is the first time that firefighters from Germany and the Czech Republic can use a common operational information system. "This will make cross-border operations on both sides even more efficient," says Walter Jonas, government president of the Upper Palatinate in Germany. Now, after two years of pilot testing, the system is going live.
The platform eliminates, for example, inconsistencies in the transmission of information in different languages. Previously, information was transmitted in a very inflexible way in printed form and had to be translated afterwards, which took, for example, 20 minutes. Thanks to the digital map and the possibility of accurately marking, for example, the area affected by a fire, the problems caused by a poorer knowledge of the terrain are eliminated. Another advantage of the system is that communication is maintained even in the event of a loss of radio link.
"A great help for firefighters in the field is the emergency tablets placed in the vehicles. They receive notifications of new emergencies and GPS coordinates and can simply turn on the built-in navigation and take the shortest route to the rescue," says Boris Procházka, founder of GINA. All the while, firefighters receive up-to-date and accurate information from the scene on their tablet, as well as, for example, photos and information about other responding forces.
The GINA platform has been used for several years by Czech firefighters and rescue services. The firefighters from Bavaria and the Karlovy Vary Region are now the first to introduce cross-border cooperation. They have 24 tablets, 31 mobile apps for commanders and representatives of authorities, and 2 GINA Central platforms with a digital map showing the location of the units. The system was purchased by the Bavarian State Ministry of the Interior, for Sports and Integration for 260,000 euros.
The project started in Upper Franconia in Germany, where it was tested by the local operations centre in Hof together with the Operational and Information Centre of Karlovy Vary Fire Rescue Service of the Czech Republic. The system will also be given to fire departments that already have experience with cross-border cooperation, such as those in the districts of Cham, Neustadt an der Waldnaab, and Tirschenreuth. If it proves successful, the cooperation should be extended southward along the Pilsen and South Bohemia regions.
"Cross-border cooperation is a driving force for both sides and also a sign of neighbourhood and partnership, especially in emergency situations," emphasizes Walter Jonas, government president of the Upper Palatinate.