Bluesky Aerial Photography Gives Essex County Fire and Rescue a New Perspective

Mar 19, 2015 -- The UK’s Essex County Fire and Rescue Service is using the latest high resolution aerial photography from Bluesky to improve incident response and planning.  The aerial dataset, covering more than three and a half thousand square kilometres, is being deployed across the entire organisation with more than 1,600 staff having access to the data via the service’s web GIS.  One of the largest County fire services in the UK, frontline crews and support staff at Essex Fire and Rescue Service are already using the Bluesky imagery to provide an instant, up to date view of the County and provide a new perspective on locations.

“Aerial photography allows all of our staff to view specific sites and premises without leaving their stations or desks,” commented Tracy King, GIS Officer at Essex County Fire and Rescue Service (ECFRS). “Although the aerial photography cannot completely replace the need for site visits, it is a great place to start and is already delivering savings and working efficiencies. The images also provide a totally different perspective and view of a site that traditional mapping simply doesn’t offer.”

The Bluesky aerial photography has already been made available to frontline crews, control and support staff via the organisation’s newly introduced web GIS (Geographical Information System), in addition to the desktop version of the software. Applications of the data have already included the creation of Tactical Fire Plans and maps as well as initial assessment of building layouts by responding crews. The Bluesky imagery has also been used to help prepare for emergency exercises, and it is hoped it will be rolled out for use by Control and Command staff as well as the service’s Critical Incident and Emergency Planning Teams. 

ECFRS decided to update their aerial photography as their current dataset was nearly ten years old. Working with other organisations in Essex, they approached a number of suppliers of aerial photography with the idea of purchasing as a consortium. “Bluesky were really flexible in their approach, allowing individual consortium members to choose the data format that worked best for them rather than applying a ‘one size fits all’ attitude,” continued King. “They also delivered the data in a timely manner – Essex is a large County with various restrictions on air space, not to mention the impact of inclement weather.”

Bluesky flew the whole of Essex in 2014 and delivered data to 17 individual members of the Essex Geographical Information Group, including the County Council, District, Borough and Unitary Council as well as Essex Police and Essex County Fire and Rescue Service. More than 3,600 square kilometres of data was captured, forming part of Bluesky’s nationwide archive of high resolution, regularly updated aerial photography available to view and purchase online at


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