West Midlands Fire Service
How CMIS helped the West Midlands Fire and Rescue authority increase efficiency...
The region covered by the West Midlands Fire Service encompasses a broad social and cultural mix of over 2.6 Million people. It includes the major cities of Birmingham, Wolverhampton, and Coventry, plus the four metropolitan districts of Sandwell, Dudley, Solihull, and Walsall.
As a Metropolitan Fire Brigade, it functions under the control of the West Midlands Fire and Rescue Authority. Formed in 1986, the Authority is made up of 27 elected members from the 3 cities and 4 districts in the area.
The brigade is run under the command of the chief fire officer and his principal command team and provides emergency response from 39 fire stations across the region. The vision of the fire service is to “make the West Midlands safer” by offering a quality service aimed at preventing, protecting, and responding.
The commitment shown to continually support and develop the product on user feedback via the CMIS user group, will ensure that the product will always meet the e-governance needs of authorities as they continue to evolve over the next few years
The effective administration and management of day-to-day committee management processes was proving an increasingly time-consuming activity for the Authority. This was exacerbated by the need to keep committee members, drawn from a large geographical area, informed.
Straight forward tasks such as providing information relating to members meetings and distributing the associated documents were taking an excessive amount of time and resource to fulfil.
With these requirements in mind the Authority decided to look for a proven committee management system that:
- Contributed towards more efficient document management
- Gave access to all officers, members, and the public
- Reduced printing costs by minimising the number of hard copies produced
- Minimised the time the committee services staff spent retrieving old or archived documents for departments
Additional requirements were placed on Authority by BVPI157. This set specific targets for the electronic provision of services, a key part of which is the obligation to publish committee papers for public consumption via the internet. As this was a procedure the Authority was already following this feature was an important requirement of any chosen solution.
Sandwell MBC, the Fire Authority’s lead authority, had been successfully utilising CMIS for several years. Based on Sandwell’s recommendation the Fire Authority invited CMIS to outline how they would tailor the solution to deal with the requirements of a single-purpose authority.
Once they were satisfied with the proposals, they opted to implement CMIS.
CMIS was specifically designed to address the needs for committee and member services staff to be able to manage more effectively the democratic process and framework. Specifically, it allows members, officers, and citizens to search for and find minute, report, agenda, or resolution information from meetings via the internet and any browser enabled device.
CMIS enables committee and member services staff to effectively manage the democratic process and framework, including current legislation. While members and citizens can access information from home, work, or any public access point such as a kiosk or local library. The system is totally secure with parameters and the availability of documents being controlled by Authority staff.
CMIS is now used by several authorities to help achieve e-Governance targets. For the west Midlands Fire Authority, the standard CMIS product was modified to cater for the needs of a single-purpose authority.
The introduction of CMIS has allowed all the Authority’s decision-making documentation (agendas, reports, and records of decisions) to be made accessible across the internet. A standardised publishing format coupled with an easy-to-use Web-based interface means that information can now be easily accessed by committee services staff, members, and citizens irrespective of their location.
Decision making within the Authority is more transparent as members history, attendance, and political affiliation, together with their other committee memberships can be quickly accessed via the website. This is important regarding Authority meeting the central government targets for e-government.
Processing and scheduling Authority meetings is now much easier due to CMIS’ inbuilt automated e-mail functionality, making the task of informing members about new or rescheduled meetings less time consuming.
Centralised information storage to one location and IT system has made it easier to share information both internally and public. It has also made the security and backup of data easier to coordinate and manage. This has helped to save on storage space for committee services staff and members.
CMIS has also provided the potential to make savings in printing budgets. The ability to dispatch agenda and reports electronically can minimise the number of hard copies produced and help the Authority become more sustainable.
“The commitment shown to continually support and develop the product based on user feedback via the CMIS user group, will ensure that the product will always meet the e-government needs of authorities as they continue to evolve over the next few years.”