Protecting against and rescuing citizens from the dangers of a fire or a natural disaster is just one of the many tasks that the Puerto Rico Fire Department (PRFD) team handles on a daily basis. As one of the agencies within the island’s Public Protection and Safety Commission, the PRFD has assumed a wide range of roles and responsibilities that go from educating the community (individual and companies alike) regarding prevention and safety matters to certifying code compliance of any structure built in the Island.

The government aims at transforming the PRFD into an agency capable of handling any type of emergency, including fires, spills, floods, and even medical emergencies at land, air or sea. This vision requires for the agency to have state-of-the-art fire stations equipped with the best communication systems possible, with island-wide reach.

It is no easy task for any agency to optimize its productivity and efficiency and improve the quality of services offered to citizens, all while being required to reduce operational costs in a 10%, as per the requirement of the Central Government. Nevertheless, the PRFD has been open to the challenge.

Needs

Real-time data is crucial for day-to-day operations of a fire department. The agency needs information to quickly respond to the needs of communities served by fire stations all over the island. After all, their clients are citizens whose lives might be in danger. Time is of the essence when a life is on the line; therefore, having superior telecommunications support for this mission critical task was key in the process of choosing a telecommunications vendor.

Improving efficiencies was also at the top on the priorities list, because the agency had a mandate of achieving more with less – a typical request these days for public and private agencies alike. The PRFD had to maximize its budget by integrating technologies that would allow for better implementation of their organizational strategies en route to achieving its main goal: education and protecting the community. At that time, the agency was facing several issues with its telecommunications systems:

  • Obsolete equipment and discontinued licensing system – and no manufacturer’s support
  • High maintenance costs and energy consumption
  • Incompatible with wide-area network (WAN) technology – which allows the exchange of information across multiple geographical areas
  • No interconnection between locations
  • Few technical personnel to handle a network of over 100 locations
  • No real time network visibility

Solutions

WorldNet’s expert team worked closely with the internal PRFD team, assessing the agency’s needs. Together, they were able to identify a better, integrated solution that would fit the client’s expectations and needs.

Our solution provides for fast and redundant voice service and data transport. It is designed to improve efficiencies for the Department, while adding flexibility and simplification into the equation. We offered the PRFD an intuitive, easy to use solution that has proven to be extremely efficient for our clients (cost and service wise). In addition, it is supported by the technical expertise of our team.

WorldNet’s team immediately traced the way for PRFD’s to reduce costs and improve its operational efficiencies through the following solutions:

  • A data network with multiple engineering services of Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) traffic with a strong Quality of Service (QoS) offer, combined with Ethernet in the first mile (EFM) for remote locations
  • Support services through our Network Operations Center , available 24/7, to proactively identify alarms and to handle outages
  • The support of our highly skilled technicians to manage the account
  • A virtual routing and forwarding (VRF) network architecture over the MPLS to improve services and effectively handle high traffic flow
  • A tool that allows client’s access to real time information and more visibility on the network’s performance, while also detecting, diagnosing and solving network issues and service outages. This monitoring tool features a main dashboard where the client can identify and research multiple equipment from the same console

Results

The PRFD experienced advances almost immediately after implementation. In terms of services, the MPLS platform has allowed the agency better and faster information access. Thus, the emergency response time has gone from 10 to 5 minutes. Besides, during outages or busy lines, incoming calls can now be rerouted to the closest fire station for handling. Regarding other efficiencies, the system has produced cost reductions of an outstanding 300% at each location, with 89 of these connected to the total solution; the recurrent cost was less than before, and made it easier for management to focus on reaching the strategic goals established by the Commission.

The platform implemented for the PRFD is scalable –-additional locations can be added to the system in the future through our robust infrastructure, as required; and the network provides for additional interconnections with other government dependencies, including the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) once the central office circuits and back up systems are completed.

“This has been a very rewarding project for the WorldNet team. There is a great satisfaction in knowing that our expertise and our high-quality products can actually help save lives”, said David Bogaty, WorldNet’s CEO, about the finished job.

Ángel Crespo, the Fire Department’s Commissioner, commended WorldNet’s team  on the great achievements of this project. “The Puerto Rico Fire Department obtained a state-of-the-art communications system thanks to the commitment and excellence of the WorldNet team. Because of this system, our response time and valuable real-time collection of data give us a strength with no historical precedence!”

On the other hand CBPR’s Project Manager Luis Vélez said: “To implement this communications system was not an easy task. It included voice over IP, data and analog voice redundancy. In addition, it was to be installed in 102 locations, in a few weeks and with a low budget. All this, with a real-time monitoring 24/7 to reduce downtime of the system. Not too many communications companies have the capacity to achieve this goal. WorldNet accepted the challenge and exceeded our expectations. Achieving this goal was a common purpose for WorldNet and those who worked to make it real at the Department. Implementing a high-end communications system so that the Fire Department can embrace the future for the benefit of the citizens of Puerto Rico- this is our legacy”.