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Emergency Services Counting On Improvement

March 9 2005


Working smarter and better is a numbers game, according to a young Auckland company which helps technology-poor Emergency Services analyse a variety of scenarios in seconds using sophisticated algorithms.

Optimal Decision Technologies has just signed a deal which will see their mathematical-based software expand from its first international site in Melbourne to ambulance services in the UK and Canada.

The company provides planning and resource deployment software to the emergency sectors, helping analyse a variety of scenarios to find the optimum answer.

Its flagship product SIREN (Simulation for Improving Response in Emergency Networks) grew from an invitation by St John Ambulance to consult on the optimal placement of new ambulance bases for a rapidly sprawling Auckland metropolis.

It has become the only commercially proven simulation based planning solution available in the world designed specifically for Emergency Services.

ODT business development manager, Tim Lynskey says the robustness of the solution (backed in part by the company's high proportion of PhDs in Operational Research) and its uniqueness were key factors in gaining the contract with the UK service which comes under severe public scrutiny and funding regimes.

"There are two parts to SIREN," says Lynskey. "Planning for comprehensive "what if" analysis that assists planners to answer complex questions such as "what is the impact on response times of an ageing/growing population? or "what likely impact will there be if we close Station or Hospital X?", "How many vehicles will we need to match demand and still meet our response time targets in say, 5 years time?", "How would our emergency services cope if a tsunami, or other natural disaster, hit the country?"

The other module, SIREN Real Time computes the outcome of all possible vehicle moves at once and recommends the best (most efficient) possible deployments to dispatchers so as to minimise coverage holes while taking into account likely call activity in the immediate future.

The company has also worked alongside Air New Zealand, saving an estimated $15m per annum by using ODT's Pairing and Rostering solutions to match scheduled flights with available pilots and crew across the globe and is also working with NZTE to access key offshore markets.

ODT is an incubator resident of The Icehouse - the International Centre for Entrepreneurship - which has been pivotal in nurturing the company through initial establishment and current growth phases. The company has now passed the $NZ1m pa. mark and is expecting to graduate from The Icehouse as more customers come on during 2005/2006.



Notes for editors:

What it Does:

SIREN is a "Virtual Ambulance Service" installed on a user's PC. User's can:

a.. Clearly view and identify localities where response times are poor. Scenarios can then be quickly tested to ascertain what can be done to improve response times - the single most important KPI for ambulance services

b.. Test various scenarios (examples given earlier)

c.. Simulate events such as natural disasters or terrorist activity and gauge the ability (or inability) of emergency services to respond appropriately

d.. Put forward robust funding arguments to treasury

e.. Investigate impacts of business rule changes such as adjustments to staff rosters in a completely risk free simulated environment.

f.. Test deployment plans with a view to continuous improvement


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