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May 5th, 2015
Emergency Managers Urged to Map Future Disasters

Some of the country’s most influential decision-makers – including Queensland Government Emergency Management Inspector-General, Iain Mackenzie; ACT SES Acting Deputy Chief Officer, Tracey Allen; Attorney-General’s Department National Disaster Recovery Programs Branch Assistant Secretary, Aaron Verlin; and, Bundaberg Regional Council Deputy Mayor, Councillor David Batt – met today at the Australian and New Zealand Disaster and Emergency Management Conference (ANZDMC).

Chaired by Mark Wallace, disaster management specialist for Geographic Information System (GIS) technology giant Esri Australia, the esteemed panel discussed the valuable role of spatial technology during the prevention and preparedness stages of natural disasters.

Mr Wallace – who has a long career history of advising government decision-makers during some of Australia’s worst natural disasters – said the discussion drew on lessons learnt from the devastating bushfires, floods and tropical cyclones experienced in recent years.

“While it was accepted that GIS technology is an essential management tool during large scale disasters, it was also acknowledged that it has a bigger role to play for emergency departments, particularly in mitigation and preparedness strategies,” Mr Wallace said.

“Using GIS technology, emergency personnel can capture, map and analyse data from past disasters to make informed decisions around future community awareness and prevention strategies. 

“For example, this could include implementing early warning applications that alert of an impending catastrophic flood, or developing interactive smart maps to inform and educate the community in the lead up to bushfire season.

“Additionally, the technology allows agencies to devise and establish the much needed frameworks to facilitate easy sharing of mission critical information in preparation for natural disasters.

“The more prepared we are for a disaster, the more we can further improve response and recovery efforts, reduce the loss of property and more importantly life.” 

Mr Wallace said GIS technology is widely-adopted during the emergency response and recovery stages, and there are significant opportunities to apply the same insights as we prepare for future emergencies. 

“In essence, it’s about leveraging the full potential of the technology to build a holistic and collaborative, cross-agency approach to better plan and respond to natural disasters.”

The 2015 Australian and New Zealand Disaster and Emergency Management Conference is a leading emergency and disaster conference for the Asia-Pacific region and is being held at Jupiters, Gold Coast.