Greetings from the opening the APCO Public Safety Communications Conference in Sydney (I am Twitering). This is is the second time the event has been held in Sydney (also was 2004). Of note is a prototype LAPD police vehicle which is the US export version of the Australian made Holden commodore.
This event reminded me of some of the military conference I have attended. There were quite a few uniformed delegates (mostly senior fire-fighters). The conference opened with us standard for the national anthem and there are flags of nations represented on the stage. The APCO representative opening the event was overcome with emotion when mentioning colleagues killed recently in the Victorian bush fires.
The keynote speaker is the head of Emergency Management Australia and is talking about the role of his newly restructured organisation. He is arguing that new new unified response to emergencies of different types makes sense. However, I have some doubts about this as EMA has previously mostly been a training and policy organisation. EMA does not have a lot of experience in operationally dealing with emergencies, which are mostly dealt with at the state level. Services such as the Tsunami warning systems are run by agencies such as the Bureau of Metrology who have operational expertise. EMA need to learn the ropes from these more experienced people. Of course my experience with EMA is limited (they used to be part of DoD when I was responsible for the Defence web sites, inclduing EMA).
I am talking tomorrow on Community Warning Systems. Media reports indicate that mobile phone carriers sent a bushfire message to all Victorian subscribers today. The reports say this was SMS, but I wonder if it was actually a "Cell Broadcast".