Challenge: Improve fire safety in Holland’s busiest, most logistically challenging region.
Solution: Hitachi Vantara’s Pentaho Data Integration blends a wide variety of public data sources to support detailed analytics that aid prevention.
Amsterdam is a vibrant, diverse metropolis, host to more than 300 festivals and 25 million tourists every year. Several unique factors also make it the most complex and risky Dutch city for emergency services to manage. These include the city’s historic canal network, one of the world’s busiest airports, and an international shipping port that serves as a major kerosene storage and transport hub. Its streets and sidewalks are packed with people, trams, motor vehicles and many, many bicycles.
These myriad obstacles, however, have not defeated city planners, but made them more creative.
Since 2009, Amsterdam has been rolling out data-driven services to establish itself as one of the world’s leading smart cities. In recognition of this effort, the European Commission awarded Amsterdam Europe’s “Capital of Innovation” award in April 2016.
Fire safety in particular, however, remains an ongoing area of concern for Amsterdam’s emergency services. Standard risks, from kitchen fires to the city’s frequent fireworks displays, are amplified by the city’s logistical challenges.
Part of the “Amsterdam-Amstelland” Safety Region, Amsterdam is one of 25 areas Holland’s government established in 2010 to help improve emergency services outcomes. Through its Safehub division, Incentro helps the region’s emergency services target resources more intelligently.
Incentro is an IT company founded on the happiness of employees and 100% owned by them. Eight of Incentro’s 300 specialists (Incentronauts) deliver a wide range of data-driven services that improve health and safety outcomes in the public and private sectors.
As Bart-Jan Knegt, managing consultant for Business Intelligence (BI), Incentro, explains, “Incentro’s Safehub division serves as an essential strategic partner for different safety regions on smart city projects, including Amsterdam’s. At the heart of this service is safehub.nl, an online hub that provides vital information to Amsterdam’s emergency service workers.”
Hitachi Vantara’s Pentaho Data Integration (PDI) software serves as Safehub’s “engine room,” intelligently managing, governing and blending a diverse range of open data sources. Property registers, for example, provide extensive data about building ages, types, materials, fire escape locations — even building managers’ telephone numbers. Census data adds vital information about neighborhood residents, including ages, nationalities and special mobility needs. Historical data provides further information about past emergency and crime incidents. PDI extracts, transforms and loads these diverse data sources into a MongoDB and Postgres data warehouse and allows data sets to be blended on the fly, before being presented in dashboards. This gives fire services 360-degree visibility of neighborhood risk factors to aid in prevention and provides more effective emergency responses.
Incentro chose PDI for Safehub due to its open standards architecture that fits well into a data-diverse, multicloud environment. It is easy to integrate with Safehub’s wide spectrum of data sources, from .CSV files to documents, PDFs and image files, the Geoserver GIS suite and some of Incentro’s homegrown web technology.
“As a consultant, I have worked with many data management tools,” explains Knegt. “Pentaho Data Integration uniquely lets you visually design your entire data flow, manage all your data connections and manage your log-ins, all in one window. It lets you see exactly what’s happening and where the bottlenecks are, which is really powerful.
With any smart city initiative using public data sources, data privacy is a major concern. To address this, Incentro ensures that all demographic data that contributes to risk profiles is anonymized in Safehub. With individuals’ consent, PDI lets Incentro encrypt certain personal data required to handle emergencies, such as names and mobile numbers of building managers. In these ways, PDI’s data management capabilities helped Incentro become ready for the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and also compliant with several important International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and other health, safety and environmental standards.
The most important benefit Safehub has delivered so far is better fire prevention. Safehub carried out a survey on its iOS app, which first responders use during downtime. The survey indicated that users were aware of the highest risk areas in the region. More importantly, they were actively giving advice to residents on how to prevent fires while cooking, the location of safety exits and other important prevention tips. One fire department used Safehub’s data to run an awareness campaign in a neighborhood where incidences of late night cooking accidents were especially high. Local residents were taught the best way to extinguish cooking fires and incidents were lowered significantly.
Better fire prevention and responsiveness is clearly paying off across North Holland. In 2017, its emergency services were ranked among the top-performing 14% of regions monitored by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). As Knegt explains, “Our work with the Pentaho platform contributed to our winning the Dutch BI award for ‘smartest organization in the Netherlands’ with the Amsterdam fire department.”
PDI also contributes to Incentro’s overall commercial success. Supporting any open data source, PDI uses a cloud delivery model and does not charge per-user license fees. This approach makes it easier and more profitable for Incentro to monetize data-driven services and achieve its target 10% profit margin. In the future, Incentro has plans to reach new markets by offering similar services to other public sector departments and private sector companies that seek to improve health and safety outcomes.
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