IMPROVED SOFTWARE: Road construction co-ordinator Khan Lakaev and co-ordinator for Emergency Management and Community Resilience Glenn Bell try out council's new emergency management software.
IMPROVED SOFTWARE: Road construction co-ordinator Khan Lakaev and co-ordinator for Emergency Management and Community Resilience Glenn Bell try out council's new emergency management software. Taylor Battersby

Qld first for disaster software

CENTRAL Highlands Regional Council, in partnership with QIT Plus, is the first Queensland council to go live with new emergency management software.

It is an achievement that has been praised as a massive step in allowing locals to make confident, on-the-spot decisions especially during a crisis or natural disaster.

The software, Guardian IMS, has been tested and now implemented and council's Coordinator Emergency Management and Community Resilience Glenn Bell said it would provide "massive” benefits during disasters as well as for road users seeking information at any time.

"We've been trialling this for nearly two years with a lot of different stakeholders and it has reduced a lot of anxiety people have about information being delayed.

"With this, people feel confident they're getting up-to-date information. And it's a single click for most of the information.”

Mr Bell said the new system allowed emergency services to answer serious emergency calls that had not been delayed by other queries such as about power outages or road closures.

"And that can delay the emergency calls coming in. In a massive event such as a cyclone, as soon as a disaster coordination centre is set up we could put the information on this as soon as we have it and the public would get that live.”

He said previously information was relayed via media releases and media outlets publishing or broadcasting information as soon as possible.

"These will still take place, but this gives people on-the-spot information and they can make their own decisions. The more informed the community is the better.”

Mr Bell said the live dashboard provides an up-to-date feed from Urban Energy and Transport and Main Roads as well as any news items regarding disaster management.

It has direct links to Weatherzone, Fairbairn Dam levels, it identifies school closures, and there's a flood mapping portal as well as contacts for SES, Crime Stoppers, ABC radio, local rangers and the RSPCA.

There are State Government alerts that can be tapped into for traffic, health, the Bureau of Meteorology, Council and fire services.

The software's extensive capabilities allowed emergency services, government and other agencies to work together from remote locations, Mr Bell said.

"Guardian IMS is, like most of today's software, cloud-based and mobile-ready, allowing users from various locations to collaborate.

"The idea is that it's a live feed from the agencies so it's one visual point to check things such as power outages, and it can tell you where they are and how many people are affected.”

If people are travelling, they can check if roads are open or closed, and if there's an emergency situation the information will be posted immediately.

"It is only one tool of the many tools that we use, but it's the one tool that will provide for livestream information into the community.

"We'll still use the media and emergency SES alerts - this is just another way of doing it.”

Mr Bell said that during the fires at the end of last year, they received an 80% reduction in calls because people could check what was happening and where.

During last year's storms in Springsure there were 5000 hits checking on road closures.

"Council now has the ability to publish road works and hazards in real-time, from the field, to its emergency management dashboard and Queensland traffic websites,” he said.

"This may include single-lane or full road closures, flooding or physical hazards at accident sites.”

He said performance monitoring dashboards mean disaster and emergency management staff across all agencies have improved situational awareness and can escalate incidents as required.

Access the new software at beprepared.chrc.qld.

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