The Fire Brigade Zone Rivierenland (Zone Antwerp 2) is one of the 35 Belgian and one of the five Antwerp rescue zones. The zone officially started operating on 1 January 2015 and provides fire and medical assistance (ambulance) in the southwest of the province of Antwerp.
The Fire Brigade Zone Rivierenland comprises 19 municipalities that together represent a population of approximately 420,000. The total surface of the service area covers approximately 570 km². The Zone Rivierenland also borders on other ones like Antwerp, Rand, Kempen, East Flemish Brabant, Flemish Brabant West, East and Waasland.
Which applications are used via Awingu?
The IT department of the Fire Brigade Squad Rivierenland explains which applications are made available through Awingu in a safe way, based on the profile of the user.
For many zones ABIFIRE is the centre of daily operations. It contains modules for intervention reports, privacy-related personnel data, construction advice, prevention reports, material management and much more. If this package is not available for technical or security reasons, the operation of the zone practically stops.
For Rivierenland, it was therefore an absolute necessity to secure ABIFIRE even more. For them it was a minimum requirement that they could secure the login procedure with multi-factor authentication. As this is also built into Awingu, this was the first checkbox that could be ticked.
The 3P package is a mandatory tool of the Government in procurement procedures. This application is also made available in the Awingu Virtual Workspace because the 3P licence only works with pre-agreed domain credentials.
As a CAD programme, Bluebeam is a widely used tool within rescue districts to draw or modify plans. At HVZ Rivierenland this application runs on a separate server.
“Before Awingu was brought into use, this program was installed locally on each device. This required a lot of maintenance and follow-up, which can now be done centrally at the server level due to the limited IT team. Also, the performance for those who work remotely through Awingu is optimal with this CAD application. Thanks to Awingu, we were able to tick 2 more boxes.”
The old, well-known accounting program is no longer current or in use at the zone. However, there is still a need to be able to access certain data here. Awingu as secure gateway brings here the perfect balance between security and user experience. Also, the impact of the irregular use of Hermes is nil, since the Awingu licenses are based on a concurrent model and not on a named basis. Another thing HVZ Rivierenland could tick off thanks to Awingu!
The Mercurius billing software is not only used by HVZ Rivierenland, but also by various local police zones. (Today, more than 60 police zones in Belgium work with Awingu). Within the HVZ, the need arose to build in some extra security. For example, there was no MFA foreseen for the internally hosted, web-based application, making the security risk too high. By putting this application behind Awingu, with MFA and a protocol switch on the Awingu appliance, a direct connection between the end user device and the server backend environment is avoided.
The DIV of the Flemish Government can now also be accessed directly, whereas previously the IT service had to push an Internet shortcut in each user profile.
To securely access your own servers from the outside, a secure connection is made via Awingu’s remote desktop functionality. In addition, every login and activity can be traced in the Awingu dashboard. Something that has proven to be very useful. This was the case when a certain anti-virus program caused another program to close down promptly. Of course, this also happened to be on a non-managed device belonging to one of the volunteers who work for the zone… Via the track & trace in Awingu, this issue could be detected and resolved fairly quickly, says the IT department as an anecdote.
The effect of Awingu at HVZ Rivierenland
We can conclude that the users are satisfied and the IT team even more so because, compared to the former Citrix use, there has been a strong simplification with Awingu.
“Volunteers who do not use a managed device from the zone, can simply use their own device to access the necessary applications as well as the file share that was integrated after the switch to Awingu. On top of that, nothing needs to be installed on the devices themselves, because Awingu is completely browser-based. This saves our IT admins time for configuration and maintenance, but also significantly reduces the cost for the type of devices.” The only thing that still needs to be installed is the remote application helper when using a Smartcard (eID).
In terms of security, huge steps have been taken with the introduction of just one tool, Awingu:
- MFA is built in for free
- All data processed through the browser is encrypted
- A complete audit of everything is available
- Even screen recording is used in some cases (especially when suppliers need access to the network).
The fact that HVZ East-Flemish Brabant and West-Flemish Brabant have also started working with Awingu, shows that HVZ Rivierenland is not alone and has made the right decision with this future proof solution.
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