Bombings spark all-out effort by transport police IT team

IT staff at British Transport Police have worked around the clock to update systems following last month's bombings in London.

IT staff at British Transport Police have worked around the clock to update systems following last month's bombings in London.

In the immediate aftermath of the 7 July blasts IT staff had to update the Vivista command and control system to cope with the thousands of extra officers from other forces who rushed to help the investigation.

On 8 and 9 July the British Transport Police IT team made hurried modifications to the system, which had been configured only to recognise officers from British Transport Police.

The Blue8 geographic information system (GIS) also required speedy upgrading, said Andrew Watson, head of technology at British Transport Police. "We had to make real-time modifications to the GIS systems as most forces that came to the assistance of the British Transport Police have not deployed GIS on railway networks."

Reliability of the command and control system was critical as the system had to record every reported incident. "We could not afford for the command and control system to fall over," Watson said.

Database administrators and other IT staff have been working around the clock and at weekends to make sure the system works. "I cannot fault the professionalism of our IT staff," Watson said.

Pressure on the British Transport Police IT department was already intense before the bombings, with staff working on moving headquarters to Camden from Tavistock Place, which was within a few hundred metres of one of the 7 July explosions, as well as a UK-wide refresh of 1,600 PCs.

NT4 desktops are being replaced by Windows XP running on HP PCs. The roll-out to London Underground was completed in June, Scottish operations were updated last month and work in the North East begins this week. British Transport Police is also replacing its wide area network.

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