Cornwall Fire Explorer | From crime to fire safety how Cornwall’s Amethyst project is using data visualisation to help the council’s Safety Partnership meets its objectives

fire mapping software


Cornwall Council’s Community Safety Partnership aims to reduce crime and disorder in the county and improve the quality of life and wellbeing for people where they live, work and spend leisure time. The partnership has replaced the six former district based community safety partnerships and includes representatives of the Police, Police Authority, Local Authority, Fire and Rescue Service, the Primary Care Trust, Probation Trust and many other organisations.

Amethyst is the intelligence hub for the partnership. It was set up to facilitate the needs of the partnership and in 2009 it developed the Cornwall Crime Explorer. The aim of the Cornwall Crime Explorer is to report crime statistics at a local level to better understand the issues around crime and meet the needs of both the local public sector partners and citizens.

Phil Davies, Strategic Intelligence and Projects Manager, Amethyst was instrumental in Crime Explorer and has since been involved in developing Fire Explorer. Having seen Crime Explorer the Fire and Rescue Service recognised that a similar approach for would help them to better understand risk and promote fire safety in the region.

Starting Point

Partner organisations are mandated to share data which means that Amethyst has access to a wide range of data sets that can be linked to develop insight into a particular area of focus. As a result Fire Explorer is a data visualisation tool that displays recorded fire incidents at ward level for the following five categories: all fires; arson; car fires; road traffic accidents and chimney fires.

“It’s an excellent tool that allows users to look at fire risk in an easy-to-understand way - whereas previous information systems only served to limit the users,” says Phil.

Meeting the need

According to Phil, Fire Explorer has encouraged the Fire and Rescue Service to take an evidence-based approach. The Chief Fire Officer, Des Tidbury believes it is helping them change the pattern of delivery so that it is more closely linked to risk. Previously teams would gear their fire safety efforts to where they thought risks were highest. However, these assumptions were based on past practice rather than looking at the evidence which has revealed changing trends.

CFO Des Tidbury

For example, it allows them to see where road traffic accidents have been increasing in a visually compelling way. Phil believes this has led the Fire and Rescue Service to consider aspects of access that weren’t previously being addressed.

Further devlopments

Phil says that Fire Explorer is continually developing and the Amethyst team is looking at ways of bringing in other data from partner organisations. For example, this might include data that gives a broader perspective of risk such as socio-economic and housing data.

In addition, the Fire and Rescue Service produces an annual Risk-Based Evidence Profile. Amethyst ensures there is joined up working between various partner organsations so this profile is as detailed as possible and helps to fill the knowledge gaps.

Key Benefits

  • Fire Explorer and Crime Explorer have both encouraged true partnership working between partners rather than working in parallel
  • The Fire and Rescue Service has a better understanding of risk and is changing the pattern of service delivery accordingly
  • Fire Explorer puts the data into context and allows longtitudinal analysis of the data – it is helping to bring the data to life

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See also:

Public Safety

London Fire Brigade - ‘Using data presentation to identify trends and patterns in fire risk across London’

Amethyst | 'The Information Hub for Cornwall Community Safety Partnership'