RDS Connected – Why only an integrated approach will work in the future 

Software can no longer be ignored when it comes to modern fire stations. Whether for plant protection, inspection work, maintainance , or in the event of an emergency. However, digital solutions can only simplify daily work and help keep everything at a glance through an integrated approach.

First of all: Yes, in the future we will still fight fires with water, but we will no longer use stirrup pumps to extinguish flames, but instead drive CAN-Bus controlled vehicles. Digitalization is on the rise and will not stop short of emergency crews. Going forward, the most important thing is to not become overly attached to a flood of different software, tools and gadgets. A deliberate examination of the main issues is already laying the groundwork.

Here at Rosenbauer, we have been dealing with digitalization for over 15 years. With our own development team, we focus our work on creating networked and integrated solutions. The result is our RDS Connected portfolio, which is specially tailored to the tasks of firefighters and emergency crews. This aims to simplify day-to-day tasks in the field, preparation and follow-up, as well as the monitoring and maintenance of the vehicle fleet and equipment. In connection with our vehicles and our equipment, we are already very close to this goal.

The dawn of the digital fire station

Taking our RDS Connected Fleet solution as an example: Which vehicles are ready for operation, and where are they located? How much operating and extinguishing agent, such as fuel, water, foam etc., is on board? Which maintenance tasks have already been completed? RDS Connected Fleet provides answers to these questions and is therefore the starting point for the digital fire station. Day-to-day tasks are simplified and clearly presented. RDS Connected Fleet not only provides real-time information on the status of the operational fleet, but also logs vehicle-related data, including error messages for post-operational work. Fire services thus have a complete overview of their vehicle fleet and the associated equipment – live and always available.


Those who know more make better decisions

If we expand on this with our checklist module, daily shift handovers, visual inspections of fire extinguishers and regular checks can be resolved intelligently and digitally. In this way, those on duty are kept informed about upcoming work, and those responsible are automatically notified if the work has not been completed or if discrepancies are found.

The same applies to Rosenbauer operations management: with EMEREC, all relevant information is available directly at the scene of the emergency – from the display of alert data and navigation to the site, to the provision of decision-relevant information (fire protection plans, hazardous material data, checklists, and vehicle rescue cards). All this data can be shared with other emergency crews in real time. The result is a uniform command and situational overview for all crews involved, right up to the command center. If we combine this with all relevant information from the emergency crews, vehicles and robots, we can create an optimal overview for the operations manager, which helps them to make the right decisions quickly. Intelligent alarms and the integration of security systems make it easier to meet target intervention times and save crucial minutes when there is a real problem.

You can save valuable minutes when it matters, not just by integrating different trades. Because those who know more make better decisions. Often, however, there is not much time for analysis. This is especially true for emergency response organizations. The use of drones makes it possible to obtain the necessary information more quickly: the flying sensors enable the rapid surveying of locations, location of hotspots, detection of hazardous substances and more effective tracking down of missing persons. This means a big step forward in increasing situational understanding, as well as in safety and cost efficiency. However, drones aren’t just for saving valuable time in an emergency. They can also significantly reduce the time and costs involved in in-house maintenance and assessments. This makes their utilization doubly profitable for a company.

Be careful when choosing the system!

All of this happens fully integrated in our software. All data is fed in and is therefore available to the shot callers of the operation. This visual (and, depending on the sensor, also thermal) information can be used while on-the-move, and displayed and processed in the command center. This enables better decisions on the efficient and safe use of resources (personnel, vehicles and equipment).

In the not too distant future, we will conduct missions in a completely different way. It will be possible to deploy a self-powered drone to the scene of the emergency, which will transmit a precise 3D image back to the vehicles. Stationary fire protection systems will supply us with live data and videos. Vehicles will be redesigned, with the interior being ergonomically laid out, to more resemble a meeting room. In this near future, we will benefit from optimal communication, and all vehicles will receive the same information in real time. Everyone will receive instructions before arriving on the scene of the emergency, and will know exactly what to do upon arrival. The dispatcher can start planning the approach straight away; the operational manager, who will be thoroughly trained to deal with the scenario as a result of many simulations, can focus on the critical aspects in the initial phase. At the same time, the operational leaders will stay connected and updated by means of displays in their helmets. Decisions are made and communicated clearly and transparently. After an operation, the vehicles automatically forward the load status and consumption statistics to the workshop. Reports and accounts are generated automatically, and the consumables used are prepared for replenishment. This might seem like a far-fetched dream. But if we take a closer look, it becomes quite clear that these are not just pipe dreams.

In conclusion, it should be noted that emergency services should pay attention to developments related to the Internet of Things, the Smart Home, and also to innovations adopted by the conservative banking sector. The real networking of all necessary components – combined into a single system – will be the solution. The only solution that truly supports you in your work and during operations without making matters too complex.

This article was published in the journal WFV INFO 1/2021.
See also Stefan Friedl’s lecture at the WFVD Online Symposium in March 2021 here (only available in German language).