Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Government Report Recommends NBN Use in Emergencies

The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, released the 2011-12 Regional Telecommunications Review Report, 23 May 2012. The report includes recommendations for the use of telecommunications, including the NBN, following natural disasters. The report also calls for work to make the Emergency Alert service more effective on mobile phones. Also of note is that the chapter page images are by Robin Eckermann.

Emergency communications

The reliability of communications during emergency situations, especially mobile communications, is a major concern for people in regional areas. Recent natural disasters such as the Victorian bushfires and the Queensland floods have highlighted the importance of reliable communications.

There is a concern that many of the communications deficiencies which became clear in the aftermath of these disasters remain unresolved.

The telecommunications industry has a critical role in working with emergency service providers to understand how their priorities can be met and to ensure adequate communications services and strategies are in place.

Disaster management plans need to include a focus on communications and the full range of communication tools which can be used before and during a disaster to communicate with people in the affected area.

There is also a need for effective deployment of temporary telecommunications infrastructure in the aftermath of natural disasters. This infrastructure is vital to recovery efforts and should be a part of all disaster management plans. ...

2.10 RECOMMENDATION — Major telecommunications providers, such as Telstra, Optus and NBN Co, should work with local government emergency management planners to identify critical infrastructure priorities and communications challenges that could affect local emergency warning systems and emergency responses. ...

2.14 FINDING — The suite of telecommunications tools needed to contact people in emergency situations should be a key feature of both individual and regional disaster management plans.

2.15 FINDING — The effectiveness of the Emergency Alert to mobile phones initiative is limited by the mobile coverage in an area. Some peri-urban residential areas, popular tourist spots and highways do not currently have mobile phone coverage. This reinforces the critical importance of having a suite of communication tools to convey emergency warnings. ...

From: 2011-12 Regional Telecommunications Review Report, Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, 23 May 2012

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