County Durham and Darlington Fire Authority (CDDFRA) are responsible for fire and rescue service across the two local council areas of County Durham and the borough of Darlington, serving a population of over 20,000 people spread over almost 2,460 square kilometres.
Operating out of 35 premises, all 999 calls are received in the control room at service headquarters, Belmont, making it one of the most critical services within the public sector.
In 2010 CDDFRA had a network maintained and a data centre hosted by a 3rd party (housed over three of their data centre premises). The design was costly and provided low bandwidth and quality for the critical service that CDDFRA have to deliver. The architecture was not scalable or capable of delivering on CDDFRA requirements for future service delivery.
CDDFRA had a strategy to bring the datacentre back in-house and entrust a network provider to service a high quality secure discreet network.
CDDFRA released a tender for their wide area network. The tender required the successful supplier to transition and upgrade to a transparent and cost effective MPLS network. The tender stated that the network must also be secure, discreet and capable of high performance and speeds. With CDDFRA delivering critical services such as the deployment of fire engines to 999 calls, robustness and resilience were also essential requirements.
Once successful in award, we engaged with the customer to finalise the project plan and scope based on the proposed design. After sign off was agreed the implementation stage began.
A dedicated project manager and delivery team were assigned to maintain the expected service levels and customer experience throughout the project life cycle.
The architecture design is a secure discreet MPLS network servicing all buildings incorporating multiple connections methods. Resilience is delivered by primary fibre connections running at minimum of 100Mps with automatic failover on ADSL/NGA, which are also private on CDDFRA’s own private MPLS network. Network traffic never enters a public network ensuring that resilience and security are unrivalled. The headquarters has multiple fibre connections leaving the building to terminate in diverse exchanges over 15 miles apart, the fibres are fully diverse thus never sharing NTE, cable routes, ducting or pinch points to ensure that services are guaranteed for the critical service it relies on. The solution also provides state-of-the-art next generation FortiGate firewalling providing gateway to ISP services. The project was delivered within six months, three months ahead of timescale.
The transition from the old network to the new network was seamless and CDDFRA experienced 0% downtime. The carefully planned detailed strategy, which involved a parallel servicing technique to allow a station-by-station migration accessing both existing and new provision in either data centre as the build continued. This approach allowed for granular control and minimal impact if any issue arose from the works.
The delivered solution is a vast improvement on the existing WAN and delivers diverse resilient connections with automatic failover to all fire stations, HQ, and datacentre.
The design delivered significant savings in addition to an uplift in service levels, technology, and connectivity.