Thursday, December 06, 2012

Will the NBN Work in an Emergency?

Australia’s telephone network is being phased out and replaced by the National Broadband Network (NBN). Also analogue broadcasting is being replaced by digital services.  But will these services be suitable replacement for use in an emergency, such as a natural disaster? Emergency Management Australia publish a Emergency Communications Manual (Manual 38) as part of the Australian emergency management handbook and manual series (AEMs). This has some reasonable advice, but unfortunately the latest edition is from 1998, well before the era of digital broadcasting, smart phones and the NBN:
"Communications are vital in responding to disasters and continuing efforts are necessary to ensure that equipment and service providers are responsive to the needs of the public safety agencies. On a number of occasions, failure of electronic communications has been a major problem in disaster response. Not only should equipment be serviceable and reliable, but effective management of communication resources and information is essential during emergencies and disasters.

Communication networks will be required between organisations and agencies to ensure proper coordination of preparedness measures and response operations.

There is also a requirement for community information, which covers prevention, preparedness, response and recovery (PPRR). People must be aware of hazards they face and how to avoid them, or reduce their effects. They need to be aware of emergency/disaster management arrangements in their local area and when a threat emerges they must be warned of it and advised what to do before and post-impact.

Typical communication measures under the elements of PPRR include the following:


e. Correct siting of communication assets, ie telephone exchanges, mobile phone facilities, broadcast stations and major computing networks. ...".
From:  Emergency Communications Manual (Manual 38), Australian emergency management handbook and manual series (AEMs), edition 2, 1998

No comments: