Saturday, June 09, 2007

Web and Internet for Emergencies in NSW

I happen to be in New South Wales this weekend, which is experiencing violent storms. So I produced some tips on "Emergency Web Page Design for Local Government".

Some weeks ago I conducted a writing for the web course for local government staff near Newcastle, where the storms have been worst. One thing I suggested was that each local authority should have a permanent link on their home page labelled "Emergency" or "Emergency Services". This would go to a permanent page with links to national, state and local contacts.

The idea is to give the emergency phone numbers first but also give links to background information. Many people do not need immediate emergency help, but want reassurance, to know what is going on, or want to offer help. Having web links allows people to find out answers to routine questions without having to tie up the emergency phone lines by calling.

Web pages for emergencies should minimize the use of graphics and dynamic content, to speed up loading and readability. One exception is to have the logo of the organization on the top left side of the page, to give the page authority (this is based on research carried out by one of my students). See "E-government for emergencies".

If emergency centers are being established the Sahana disaster management software may be of use. The latest stable version 0.4 for Linux and Windows XP. This system was developed with the assistance of the Australian Computer Soceity.

Hope everyone is well in the current storms. If I can be of help to non-government or local, state or federal agencies I can be contacted.

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