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A pilot where Welsh emergency services used an open standard for data sharing managed to cut the time needed to transfer records between control rooms from four minutes to less than 10 seconds.

The government plans to set a single, open standard to make it easier for emergency services to share data electronically when responding to incidents, it ha s announced.

The open XML standard would allow police, fire, rescue, ambulance and other services to share one, single record of incidents, removing the need to enter the same information twice into their systems or telephone each other.

A pilot of the scheme in Wales managed to cut the time needed to transfer records between control rooms from four minutes to less than 10 seconds.

The government has published proposals for an open, common XML blueprint for data sharing on the online Standards Hub and asked interested parties to respond by 17 July.

One agreed standard would remove the need for emergency services to call each other in most routine incidents, a Cabinet Office spokeswoman told ComputerworldUK.

At the moment, when a citizen calls 999 and gets put through to the relevant control room (for example the local police), if the police need other agencies to attend they have to call them and explain about the incident over the phone.

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Each agency involved has to enter information about the incident into their 'Computer Aided Dispatch' systems.

“Getting this right could save valuable time when people are most in need,” the Cabinet Office said in a blog post.

The government will not make a decision whether or not to make the standard mandatory until the submission deadline has passed and the Open Standards Board has made a recommendation, the spokeswoman explained.

The Cabinet Office did not provide any set timescales for implementation when asked by ComputerworldUK.

The project is led by government CTO Liam Maxwell and his team within the Government Digital Service working with the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) and Welsh Government.

Whitehall agreed upon a single open 'ODF' standard for sharing documents in July 2014 and plans to introduce more open standards to cover other areas of civil service work.

The government is currently consulting on open standards for publishing government vacancies online until 22 July, and on exchanging property, address or location point information, with submissions required by 27 July.