The London Observer claims in a story published yesterday that the £1.4bn emergency network called FiReControl being developed to address bomb scares, fires and floods is unlikely to be in place for the 2012 London Olympic Games and "could even end up scrapped."
According to the FiReControl system web site: "Under the current planning assumptions the first three Regional Control Centres will go live in summer 2010 - nine months later than previously expected, with the full system expected in place by spring 2012 - five months later than planned."
However, the Observer says that leaked documents indicate that the FiReControl system is actually 10 months behind the published schedule, which means that it will not be ready for the Olympics.
The Conservative Party, the Observer story notes, "have repeatedly said that any control centre that is not operational if and when they get elected will be canceled, suggesting the entire project faces the axe."
The FiReControl system, which was to integrated 46 stand alone fire control rooms into 9 regional centers, was originally initiated in March 2004 and slated to be completed by November of 2007. The government promised that it would use "tried and tested" technology to ensure that a rapid (and cost contained) implementation would ensue. That didn't happen, as costs have exploded from the original project estimate of £100 million.
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) called for a complete review and overhaul of the project last November when the project was delayed again. At that time, the FBU said that "Everyone knows this project is a disaster."
This latest potential slip will no doubt make the FBU demands for a review even more emphatic, especially after a spokesman for the Department of Communities and Local Government said: "We are confident that Fire Control system can be delivered and as with any project of this size it is right and proper for there to be contingency plans put in place."
Robert N. Charette is a Contributing Editor to IEEE Spectrum and an acknowledged international authority on information technology and systems risk management. A self-described “risk ecologist,” he is interested in the intersections of business, political, technological, and societal risks. Charette is an award-winning author of multiple books and numerous articles on the subjects of risk management, project and program management, innovation, and entrepreneurship. A Life Senior Member of the IEEE, Charette was a recipient of the IEEE Computer Society’s Golden Core Award in 2008.