South Australia to splurge AU$13.5m on GPS tracking for firefighter vehicles

Automatic vehicle location equipment will be installed on more than 1,400 fire emergency vehicles across South Australia.

Ahead of the upcoming bushfire season, the South Australian government said it will invest AU$13.5 million to roll out automatic vehicle location (AVL) equipment to improve the safety and intelligence during fire emergencies.

According to Minister for Emergency Services Vincent Tarzia, Netstar Australia has been awarded a tender contract to install more AVL in more than 1,400 vehicles for the Country Fire Service, Metropolitan Fire Service, State Emergency Service, ForestrySA, and the Department for Environment and Water for operations across metro Adelaide and regional South Australia.

AVL provides real-time location information of firefighting and other emergency response vehicles during incidents.

"Netstar's AVL solution has been tested thoroughly and can withstand high demand in some of the state's most remote locations, like parts of Kangaroo Island, where phone connectivity is non-existent," Tarzia said.

Trials of the AVL equipment was undertaken between January and February this year at Kangaroo Island, Mount Lofty Ranges, and Yorke Peninsula. Bushfire-hit locations at Lucindale and Cherry Gardens also featured in the field trials.

The implementation of AVL was one of the key recommendations delivered as part of the Keetly Review, an independent review into the state's 2019-20 bushfire season. The final report, delivered in June 2020, made 68 findings and 15 recommendations.

Earlier this year, the state government announced a AU$6.5 million SASAT1 space mission that will see the state launch its own small satellite into low orbit in 2022.

When launched, the satellite will be used to support the improvement of state emergency, environment, water monitoring, and bushfire mitigation service over three years to 2024.

The move by the South Australian government follows in the footsteps of other Australian states that are equipping firefighters with advanced technologies, such as New South Wales, which announced it would direct AU$28 million over four years into research and development of new technologies to help tackle future bushfires.

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