Sheffield partnership uses computer modelling to boost fire prevention
Universities in Sheffield are working with the local fire authority to use predictive computer modelling to develop new ways to keep the area's most vulnerable communities safe from fire. The PREMONITION project has been launched at the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University by experts in behavioural risk analysis, intelligent simulations and in the study of social processes. Sophisticated computer modelling techniques such as large scale agent-based modelling will enable firefighters to draw together many different strands of information including geographical, demographic and behavioural data to help predict where fires and other emergencies might occur. The simulation will enable firefighters to identify where the most vulnerable areas are - considering, for example, times of the year or the day when risks are greatest. Some of this information is already available to fire services through online sources, or from local authority records, but due to the vast amount of data it is difficult for humans to make sense of this information and combine it in real-time to support decision-making. The primary aim of the PREMONITION intelligent system is to enable fire services to make better decisions about where to allocate resources and improve planning and fire prevention initiatives. "We live in increasingly complex social networks, with our behaviours being influenced by many interrelated factors," says Dr Daniela Romano of the Department of Computer Science at the University of Sheffield. "Although fire services already have access to much of this information, there is no tool that can help them grasp all of the different strands and utilise the information in real-time to make decisions. This predictive model will unpack this complexity, and help manage resources and services targeted at the most vulnerable groups in our community". The project is funded by SYFRS, through its Stronger Safer Communities Reserve, and is targeted, initially, at communities in Sheffield. If successful, the programme could be made available to fire services across the country.
Pictured: Sheffield University by Chris J Dixon / Geograph.org.uk
University of Sheffield: www.sheffield.ac.uk
Sheffield Hallam University: www.shu.ac.uk
South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue: www.syfire.gov.uk
Online Surrey portal for public contracts worth hundreds of millions
Public sector contracts in Surrey worth hundreds of millions of pounds a year will be offered to local firms with the launch of a new collaborative online initiative. SupplytoSurrey will list contracts being offered by Surrey County Council, Surrey Police, the University of Surrey and the county's 11 boroughs and districts. The site is being led by the county council as part of a drive to stimulate economic growth which has also seen it pledge to ensure 60% of its spending on goods and services is with local businesses. It comes after the successful launch of a similar portal for construction contracts, BuildSurrey, helped the county earn a government award for being among the top 10 authorities in the country to do business with. Firms have clinched construction contracts worth more than £10m through the BuildSurrey initiative, which will be accessed through SupplytoSurrey when it opens for business in the autumn. Contracts worth up to £250m annually are signed by the county council alone.