Kiwi system to save Aussie lives

Software jointly developed by Kapiti Coast District Council and New Zealand Emergency Management And Civil Defence has been chosen by the Australian Commonwealth Government for management of civil defence in Australia.

THE AUSTRALIAN Commonwealth government is buying the New Zealand Emergency Management and Civil Defence (EMCD) system to better manage its civil defence issues. This follows the successful test of the EMCD's interface on September 9, 1999.

EMCD didn't develop the product entirely on its own.

"We've developed the interface in conjunction with Kapiti Coast District Council," says EMCD public affairs manager David Schnel-lenberg.

EMCD New Zealand will maintain ownership of the product, but will continue to develop it from its current format with EMCD's Australian equivalent.

"It's a product which is setting the scene for the future in terms of integrated emergency management systems," says Fergus Power, the national project manager for EMCD. He hopes the interface, which helps coordinate the four R's — "risk reduction, readiness, response and recovery" — will go beyond looking after Y2K and be used by civil defence organisations for common crises that occur.

"On the system we have established the 1:50,000 scale topographic map that allows people to search for features very efficiently." That means any user can drill down to street level and be able to work out just how many houses, for example, would be affected by a power outage, without having to send people out into the field to take a look.

"We can insert incidents on to a map of the area and then export them in an Internet publishable format for ready reference by an Inter-net site."

It's this system that generates the information seen on the EMCD's Y2K page (www.watchnz.govt. nz)," says Power.

"It's got much wider applications and we can see much finer detail on the system itself, of course."

The next big test for the interface is December 31 and Y2K.

"We will have centres around New Zealand feeding information to us in Wellington and then being posted to the site," says Schnel-lenberg, who expects to be receiving feeds from over 300 infrastructure companies and emergency services around the country. The site will be hosted by ClearNet and will be available free of charge to anyone around the world who wishes to see how New Zealand is coping on the day itself.

"We did have plans early on to charge foreign visitors to help keep numbers down, but that fell through." Instead, the site will be mirrored off shore in Europe and the US.

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