Council develops app to improve emergency response

The application runs on Council devices and taps into the cloud to disseminate information as quickly as possible from field crews.

Marlborough District Council’s geographic information system (GIS) team has created an application that will enable emergency command centres and field crews to pinpoint groups with injured people and damaged buildings in the aftermath of a natural disaster.

The Emergency Response Building Application (ERBA), which runs on Council devices and taps into the cloud, can be used to disseminate the information, as quickly as possible, from the field crews to the command centre, decision makers and emergency teams.

Previously this type of information could only be collected once the inspection team returned to base. Then it was a huge administrative task to sort through the collected information to gain an overview of disaster-affected areas and the type and nature of the damage.

Council’s GIS Solutions Architect, Grant Carroll, said work began on developing the application after the Christchurch earthquakes. However, it was the Seddon quake, in July last year, which prompted the Marlborough team to swiftly finish building the application.

“Crews simply hit the GPS button to fix their location. Then the system automatically returns the information on that particular property that the Council has stores in its database. This saves time and keeps crews well-informed,” Carroll says.

“Once an inspection is complete, results can be sent in real time to the command centre. It’s going to enormously speed up the information flow and help controllers make fast, accurate decisions about allocating resources.”

Once any physical threat to residents has been addressed, inspection crews can use the same application and tools to record which buildings have been damaged, which are safe and which need further inspections.

Council CIO Stacey Young said transferring the technology to other councils around the country should be a relatively simple matter. The Marlborough District Council is already in discussions with other councils interested in using ERBA.

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Tags governmentEarthquakeemergency responsechristchurchMarlborough councilemergency response building applicationNZ council

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