Mentec and Mapflow come to the rescue for AA Ireland


10 Jul 2006

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AA Ireland has introduced a new computer system that combines its rescue-management operations with geographical information that can provide the exact location of callers, thereby speeding up the delivery of roadside assistance.

The rescue centre application was developed by Irish software companies Mentec International and Mapflow. According to AA Ireland, the technology will help the organisation to manage the 120,000 breakdown callouts it handles every year, which membership director Dennis Fisk said was a “huge operational challenge”.

The system was developed by Mentec using Microsoft .NET and SQL Server technologies and builds on AA Ireland’s previous investment in Mapflow GIS (geographical information science) technology. All communication between AA’s rescue centre and its mobile patrols is carried out using mobile data transfer (MDT) technology, with each AA patrol accessing complete incident reports and providing updates through their MDT unit.

Fisk added that AA Ireland is making ongoing investment in the organisation’s rescue programme. Its fleet of vehicles has been equipped with geographical positioning systems for more than five years. The Mapflow product provides a mapping information system for traffic monitoring. The new software system, combining AA’s rescue-management operations with this geographical information, allows it to pinpoint the location of the caller. Fisk said this would make the AA service more efficient and would mean an extra time saving for AA members at the side of the road.

From the moment the first rescue call comes in, AA staff cab accurately locate the rescue on a map, find the nearest available patrol vehicle or approved garage and monitor the job progress through to completion.

“People get stranded in unfamiliar surroundings, poor weather conditions and potentially unsafe situations. It’s very reassuring for them to know that once they contact us our operators know exactly where they are, where the nearest patrol is and that we’re on the way. If there is any problem, such as traffic build-up between us and our customer, we can react accordingly before it ever becomes an issue for them,” said Fisk.

“We now have a central management console that provides real-time information on breakdowns as they happen. We can manage patrol despatches more effectively, with a complete view on the progress of call-outs. It’s all invisible to the customer but they get back on the road as soon as possible, which is what really matters,” he added.

The Mentec system also allows AA Ireland to consolidate, analyse and report on the masses of data produced around the company’s breakdown operations very quickly. It also allows the AA to analyse vast amounts of empirical data and drill down into trends and issues around car breakdowns.

By Gordon Smith