Emergency services are now armed with new technology.As you’ve probably already guessed over these several unusually wet weeks, NSW State Emergency Service is expecting this storm season to be a particularly bad one and is arming itself with smartphones and tablets, and will get the help of a supercomputer.
SES volunteers will for the first time be able to access the main system using smartphones and tablets while they’re out on the ground and respond to emergency calls as they come.
“I was out at Penrith a few weeks ago when the storm was happening and found the crew on the ground going ‘how good is this’. They had their tablet there and could see that they had a job here, two jobs around the corner, and exactly what they had to do,” NSW SES Acting Commissioner Jim Smith said.
The new beacon system, launched just in time for the worst of the storm season, has moved the service’s management system to the cloud allowing calls to be categorised by urgency and viewed and actioned in real time by the closest SES units.
The system has been successfully used by crews to provide more than 10,400 hours of assistance services since it became functional in October. During the next few months, SES is expecting to beat the 90,000 hours spent on the ground last storm season.
Police and Emergency Services Minister Stuart Ayres said: “I think it puts NSW well ahead of the pack when it comes to utilising technology.
“What this means is we can get out there faster, we can respond more effectively and we can deal with more than we’ve been able to before.”
The new system was built in-house over 18 months for about $1 million and will replace the ageing RFA Online system that could no longer handle the increasing workload.
As well as improving response times, SES is also expecting to better detect emergencies with the help of a new Bureau of Meteorology supercomputer that will provide “much more accurate predictions of where storms are going to hit, which will allow [SES] to stand up specific units much quicker”, said Mr Smith.
“At present we often get maps showing that it’s going to affect all of Sydney, which is quite difficult for us to prepare for.
“I met with the head of the bureau last week and we’re hoping to get much better results for storms.”
The new supercomputer is expected to be in operation by mid-2016 and will also improve predictions for fires, floods and cyclones.
Local councillor Susai Benjamin wants the next step to be real-time information for the community.
“I think there should be some indication of how long someone will get there in,” Cr Benjamin said. “I think it’s important to keep the affected party informed.”