Emergency Management and Civil Defence used the overnight rollover to the potentially problematic date of 9/9/99 as a test bed for its incident monitoring system.
What David Schnellenberg, EMCD’s public affairs manager, described as as a test of "communication links – what are the pressure points for the flow of information and sort out any difficulties so we’re ready for December 31st,” ran between 10pm last night and 2am this morning
EMCD’s plan revolves around its Web site (www.watchnz.govt.nz) which will be used to get word out to the masses. But the Web site is only the tip of the electronic iceberg.
“It’s all the connections and communications that have gone on over the last few months. Other countries are quite stunned at the progress New Zealand has made and are often quite envious of what we’ve achieved,” said project manager Fergus Power last night. Around 300 national and regional utilities and emergency services were involved in the test run, feeding in information “as if it was real” , for entry into a geographic information system (GIS) and posted to the site in the form of regional maps.
“That allows Emergency Management, the utilities and emergency services to quickly see a region or part of the country and what sort of things are happening. That allows them to better manage incidents in their area,” said Schnellenberg.
The site itself is hosted by Clear Communications, and is really two separate sites. International users of the site are being directed to a server hosted in Los Angeles. Only New Zealand and Australian users canaccess the locally-hosted site proper, to help dissipate the load.
Power wouldn’t go into detail about the security in place, except to say “arrangements are in place to deal with any unexpected problems which occur.”
To ensure no “War of the Worlds” incidents happen, each page of the Web site has a disclaimer written in several languages that clearly says the information is “not a real incident”.