Nillumbik Shire Council has been recognised for its IT response to the Black Saturday bushfires, (Click here to Download Nillumbik Media Release) using Rapidmap's Iconyx innovative systems and software to record and collate accurate post-fire data and community recovery information in record time.
Nillumbik was recently announced as a finalist in the LGPro 2010 Awards for Excellence in the Special Project Initiative category for its bushfire response project.
This post-fire innovative Local Government initiative also won the 5th Annual Victorian Spatial Excellence Awards in the category of Infrastructure and Construction, People and Community, late last year. Lyn Terrett, Spatial Technologies Director of Iconyx, a Melbourne-based developer of the Crest software used in the project, presented the Spatial Excellence Award to Council at last night’s Council meeting.
Nillumbik Shire Mayor, Cr Ken King said that Council realised very early after the fires that data management would be as important as physical assistance and emotional support in its response to the fires. ‘We decided that we had to be able to retrieve and store all of the information we received from bushfire affected areas in both reports and map formats. The mapping was essential to enable us to deliver targeted and efficient services to those areas.’
In less than a day, Council deployed the Crest Workforce Mobility System – supplied by Iconyx and used successfully for Asset Management over many years - enabling staff and volunteers with little or no GIS or GPS training to record quality post fire observation data in the field.
The data collected then enabled observations from the field to flow to the database back at the Shire offices and enabled staff to see the extent of the damage..
Ms Terrett said this innovative use of mobile and spatial data management technologies yielded benefits for the people and communities of Nillumbik and associated organisations including the investigative team at Victoria Police, Taskforce Phoenix. ‘By integrating the captured data through Crest into Council’s corporate systems, all relevant staff, customer services, contractors and volunteers were able to have up-to-date information about the status of properties, people and animals affected by this disastrous event. This approach sets a new standard for post disaster workforce coordination in Australia and Nillumbik Shire Council should be congratulated for its efforts’ Staff who embraced the technology included local laws, health, building and planning. Local laws staff were mobilised on Monday 9 February to look for injured, dying and dead animals, both native and domestic. The location and details of each animal were recorded electronically and, where required, this allowed for the humane destruction of seriously injured animals.
The information collected by field staff in the air and on the ground, enabled office-based staff to allocate veterinary assistance and organise contractors to pick up dead animals. The information collected during these inspections was the first definitive information of stock and native animal losses in the Shire and was passed on to Department of Primary Industry for inclusion for State wide analysis.
Field and office processes instigated during the emergency phase are still in use. This innovative use of technology by Council has greatly improved the efficiency and alleviated some of the stress of managing a complex situation due to the accuracy and rapid availability of information collected.