A few years ago, I was responsible for the implementation of the Emergency Notification System (pol. SPR) in Poland. Due to the ageing technology, the time for preparing and implementing SPR 2.0 is approaching in big steps. In my opinion, it is an ideal place for using Blockchain technology. In this text I will try to outline my vision of SPR 2.0.
For the purpose of this text I simplify descriptions, assumptions and do not write about everything 🙂 Additional information not included here does not exclude the possibility of using Blockchain technology.
The Ministry of the Interior and Administration is currently responsible for the operation of the Emergency Notification System. The organisation of Public-Safety Answering Point (eng. PSAP, pol. CPR) is on the side of individual Voivodes. There are 17 CPRs in Poland (16 voivodeship CPRs + one separate CPR for Warsaw). In CPR there are operators of emergency number who answer calls and record requests (in a nutshell).
The Emergency Notification System uses the IT System of Voivodeship Emergency Notification Centres (SI WCPR), the purpose of which is to handle 112 emergency calls. During the acceptance of a call, the 112 operator creates a so-called “form”, i.e. a description of the call together with additional information. Next, the description is transmitted via interfaces to the relevant services, which are responsible for handling the call (Police, Medical Rescue, Fire Department).
The SI WCPR system is a classic centralized system. There are two centres: Basic National Centre (POK) and Backup National Centre (ZOK), which operate in a reliability cluster.
The basic weakness of the current solution is the centralized architecture of the SI WCPR system. A failure or breakdown of one of the two server rooms POK/ZOK increases the risk of stopping the operation of the entire Emergency Notification System (very large simplification).
Challenges for SPR 2.0
- Increased resistance to failures (no single points of failure)
- Full substitutability in the event of a failure or large disaster, i.e. the ability to handle emergency calls through one CPR centre for calls from all over Poland
- Storage of 112 recorded calls on a durable medium for 20 years
- Number of applications per year: 15 million (1713 per hour)
- Ability to handle “peaks”, i.e. an increased number of requests by 50% for 4 hours per day: 2570 per hour (< 1 request per second).
My vision is to use Blockchain technology to implement SPR (BC SPR), which would replace the currently used SI WCPR system. I assume using Blockchain platform supporting “turing complete” programming languages: Ethereum, Quorum, Hyper Ledger. Assuming that the system at its peak load would support even a few requests per second, it does not disqualify any of the above mentioned platforms. I assume that for the needs of SPR the Blockchain platform will work in private mode.
Blockchain platform will be used as a classic distributed register with registered emergency requests. On the Blockchain side there will be prepared software e.g. in Solidity for handling emergency requests. Additionally, the application integrated with BC enables access to the notification register (frontend for Blockchain).
Instead of a centralised architecture system, I propose using one of the main features of Blockchain technology, i.e. decentralization. Each CPR centre will have its own Blockchain node. Requests will be registered in local nodes and the BC mechanisms will be distributed to other nodes. The Proof of Authority (PoA) can be used as a consensus mechanism to avoid unnecessary energy expenditure known from public Blockchains.
Communication with services
Currently, communication between services takes place at the central level of POK/ZOK. In version 2.0, each service will have at least one BC SPR node. So every request will be immediately visible here. The integration will take place between the local node of the BC SPR and the command system of each service. As before, services will be able to update the status of request handling in the BC SPR.
Storage of recorded calls on a durable medium
One of the challenges is to ensure that recorded calls are stored for 20 years with irrevocability and no possibility to modify the recording.
An ideal solution here may be the S3DOC system, which does not require expensive infrastructure (after all, we are talking about public funds, i.e. ours) and the features of durability were confirmed by an independent audit conducted by the researchers of the Systems Research Institute Polish Academy of Sciences.
In BC SPR, together with the registered application form, a link to the conversation registered in S3DOC will be available.
Each CPR will be equipped with a S3DOC system node. The nodes will be connected to each other in a reliability cluster.
Advantages of Blockchain technology
First of all, increased resistance to breakdowns. There is no single point on which the operation of the whole system depends.
Full substitutability. In case of failure or disaster, each CPR will be able to take over the emergency traffic from all over the country.
The durability of not only recorded calls will be ensured, but also thanks to the features of Blockchain technology, calls entered into the BC CPR “form”.
Currently, in the system it is possible to perform the so-called post-system operations, i.e. changes of data directly in the database, in case of using Blockchain technology such operations are not possible.
In this short text I just wanted to signal the use of Blockchain technology in conditions for which it is excellent. Decentralization, durability of stored data – these are the basic features of Blockchain, which are naturally used here.
Of course, the concept is not complete, because that was not the purpose of this text. I wanted to show you how to look for “natural” solutions for Blockchain technology. Due to the IT tools used many years ago, technological changes in SPR are also becoming necessary (the technological debt has to be repaid one day).
Those closer to the subject of SPR will rightly notice that similar concepts apply to Command Support Systems of particular services. It is also possible to use the features of Blockchain technology to improve the operation of systems handling emergency requests and dispatching tasks. I took part in the implementation of the National Medical Rescue Command Support System (PRM SWD), so I see a similar concept for this system.