COAG sub-committee praises disaster tech

Summary:The National Emergency Management Committee has issued an update on the National Strategy on Disaster Resilience, which has praised the use of technology in disaster scenarios, following the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting in Canberra yesterday.

The National Emergency Management Committee has issued an update on the National Strategy on Disaster Resilience, which has praised the use of technology in disaster scenarios, following the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting in Canberra yesterday.

In a report handed down by the co-chairs Roger Wilkins and Dr Margot McCarthy of the committee, technology was praised for effectively communicating risk information to those in the path of natural disasters.

"Significant progress has been made through introducing new technologies to communicate risk information, and a broad willingness to understand and use available information to inform appropriate action," the report said.

The co-chairs attributed the success of technology in emergency situations to information sharing relationships between governments, companies and individuals when it came to disaster scenarios, and added that to ensure ongoing success, these relationships ought to continue and expand in future.

"Further work is needed to improve information and data sharing; and more could be done to determine what hazard and risk information could most usefully be communicated to communities. When providing information on hazards and risks, we need to consider how people might react."

The committee said in its report that technology in disaster scenarios should be adopted based on an assessment of the community in the danger zone, and that risk information ought to be tailored to the specific demographics of the community, making a national blanket electronic warning system redundant.

The committee did warn, however, that over-dependence on technology may give way to greater impact of a natural disaster.

"We also know that disaster risks are likely to increase and magnify as our climate changes, our population grows and ages, and our society and economy become increasingly dependent on technology," the committee said in its report, adding that communities need to be aware of their risk management plans when it comes to disasters in order to minimise the impact of any subsequent outage.

The report comes after Western Australia's Fire and Emergency Services Authority (FESA) defended its use of the SMS early warning system in the wake of the Perth fires.

COAG met in Canberra yesterday and also discussed the ongoing overhaul of the vocational education and training, including the implementation of a Unique Student Identifier number to improve registration and interaction with TAFEs, universities and colleges nationwide.

The council expects to have a business case for the student identifier prepared by June.

Topics: Government, Government : AU

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