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Computer aided dispatch system of London Ambulance System


LAS can be abbreviated as London Ambulance Service. It is one of the largest ambulance services in the world. The computer aided dispatch system in early 90's was implemented by LAS which was a total disaster. The failure of the Computer aided dispatch was due to the many reasons but improper planning is considered to play a significant role. The following report briefly explains the problems faced and to overcome the failure of Project Planning and Project Organization of this computer aided dispatch system of London Ambulance System, it also gives an insight about the inadequate research in implementing high technology for a highly responsible project. It also mentions about the project getting into trouble due to the unacceptable management factors.

During the early 90's the London Ambulance Service, attempted to introduce and implement the computer aided dispatch system. The cause for implementing this computer aided dispatch was increase the efficiency and reliability of a service which had a complex and a large task to execute. The organization had been under tremendous pressure due to the weak industrial conditions then. They aimed to introduce and implement a computer aided dispatch system that would help to receive emergency calls and send ambulance crew to the required destinations. At the same time new techniques were introduced to monitor the location and availability of the emergency services.

For the synopsis of this failed project we would consider it in four different aspects. These four aspects are

1. Project Specification.

2. Project Planning.

3. Project Organization.

4. Project Implementation.

In this report, the Project Planning and Project Organization are clearly explained. Both the aspect will explain about constraints considered in the execution of the project, reason of failure and what steps should have been taken to avoid those failures.

Project planning:

Planning is one of the most important aspect or procedure of the project. Planning helps the organization to implement or run project in a systematic way. It also helps in predicting the future output of the project. Improper planning leads to disasters and even could have impact on the social life of the people. Mistakes were made in CAD LAS project planning.

a) The main factors relating to Project planning aspect which led to the failure of the project.

Answer: The significance of planning in any project are as follows:

* Good planning is essential to identify the scope and ensure the effective and efficient implementation of a project.

* Planning is probably the single most important phase in the life of any project.

* Many of the problems that arise during a project can be traced back to ineffective planning.

Main aspects considered in planning are:

Human Resources / Training

* There was little involvement of ambulance service crew. The main cause for this was due to the new systems involved in the plan and insufficient training.

* According to the planning the PRINCE method was not applied in the management which led to serious conflicts between higher and lower management of the organisations.

* Authorizations views from the other perspective are the equal responsibility.

Time & Money

* Attempted to implement the project with least available resources in accordance to achieve the highest efficiency.

* The system architecture and design tasks of the programme were not planned and system specification was not meet to the standard mention by the SRS.


* The budget set up for the project was too low or impossible, but accepted a better and improved model of return.

* The time allocated for the employers to complete the task or realize the project was insufficient.

Research & Development

* Wrong prediction of the project output with reference to previous project which led to disaster.

* Choosing the wrong contractor, APICOT computer in an attempt to save money i.e. for software project a hardware contractor was allotted.

* Managing group did not appreciate it as a business reengineering project.

* Project specification is made without proper understanding or knowing the technology available for the project executing period.

* The Planning of the implementation part of the equipments was not was not tested and even implemented as planned during the practical stage of the project.

* During the time of 90's, computer aided map navigation, location and vehicles status system, Windows OS and visual basic programming are still not fully develop technology

b) What steps could have been taken that would have avoided such difficulties.

Answer: The steps taken to avoid such difficulties are as follows:

Human Resources / Training

* PRINCE methodology has to be implemented in the organisation which reduces the work load for higher level management and equal distribution of the work is allotted to the staff.

* User friendly software should be used, detailed training about the software and the equipments usage should be provided to crew and the staff of the organisation.

* The arrangement of the work to be operated should be sequentially followed according to the plan.

Time & Money

* The planning of the implementation part of the LAS with efficient outcome of the new dispatch system has to be taken into consideration over a reasonable period of time.

* Budget allotment for the task completion should be up to the mark.

Research & Development

* Planning of system architecture and design tasks of the programme has to be planned according the standard specification.

* The contract had to be given to a proper organization, who are professional in the subjected field.

* The management should have considered the risks involved in the project.

* It would be necessary for all staff and management to have absolute confidence in the system as potential life and death judgments would be made by it.

Conclusion for Project Planning:

The planning plays an important role in the project. This report briefly explained about the planning errors carried out by the LAS and also specifies some of the precautions through which the LAS could be successful in the project implementation. The employers must be given effective training and time to complete a task.

Project Organization

a) What were the main factors relating to your chosen aspect which led to the failure of the project

Answer: The factors relating to the failure of the of the project in concern with organization are as follows:

* There was no co-ordination between the high level and the low level management.

* There were irregularities in the management structure.

* No proper experienced person in the team for the specific project management or contract management.

* Lack of definition of the contractor responsibilities.

* At the time of designing the project, there was little involvement with the ambulance crew.

* Small IT contractor, who was a hardware vendor and had little knowledge of the software was given a major responsibility.

* Middle management was not proposed.

b) What steps could have been taken that would have avoided such difficulties

Answer: The concern points which have to be followed by the organization are move towards decentralised management and cost, Centre accounting, Prior investment, Severe resource pressures, Political concern over cost effectiveness, Public concern over service quality and Labour relations.

The steps taken to avoid the difficulties are as follows:

* The organisation should be organised as PRINCE project management methodology and the experienced people should be employed to train staff about the application of the method.

* Suggestions from every state of workers should have been considered.

* There should be frequent refreshing for the workers about the technology manual used in ambulance system.

* The crews should be trained well about the new technology implemented.

· The lower management has to report to the middle management and middle management should report to the higher management. This type of infrastructure should be maintained in the organisation to avoid the progress chasing by the higher management.

· The London ambulance management might have made good communication with software department, ambulance operators, dispatchers, and other key users of the system.

· Organisation required taking more time before implementing the CAD system.

· Maintaining the good financial contacts.

* The structure of a project organisation identifies responsibilities, lines of communication and reveals opportunities to delegate.

* The people working within a project organisation need to know who else is involved and who has responsibility for what!


* International Journal of Project Management Vol. 14, No. 2, pp. 103-110, 1996.

* A paper “Mobile unit for healthcare provision via telematics support “ from Dr. Sotiris Pavlopoulos Institute of Communication and Computer Systems, National Technical University of Athens 9 Iroon Polytechniou Str., 15773 Athens.

* for planning

* for organising