BLACK SATURDAY – Communities in Crisis

On Saturday 7 February 2009, Victoria was overwhelmed by the force and power of raging bushfires. In what would become known as Black Saturday. Thousands of homes were lost; the toll of human lives lost was nothing short of tragic.

The aftermath of the fires presented a major challenge for essential services, as well as volunteer organisations. Particularly as they struggled to cope with the devastation and displaced families. Nillumbik was one of the hardest hit communities. With council personnel called in on the Sunday in order to help.

Ensuring the services to support families of the region were in order was the first priority. Following this, came animal welfare and then inspections of properties to create a damage register and identify any health issues.

Paper forms caused issues on the first day. Firstly, staff were having to spend an enormous amount of time on manual data entry.

Coupled with the subjective and inconsistent nature of the observations being recorded. As well as, the challenge in trying to identify the correct property addresses. Nillumbik Shire Council’s Health, Building and Local Laws departments quickly realised the difficulty in collecting and assembling field observations.

Fortunately, staff at Nillumbik had a long working experience using Iconyx products. As such, our Crest application was quickly deployed. In order to provide spatial information and quality-controlled field forms and support a fully mobile workforce.

Daily observations by the Local Laws rangers were essential and the technology was quickly accepted as part of the process.

Through synchronisation, observations from the field could be shared with the Shire Office in real time. As a result, Crest allowed for the easy identification of injured and abandoned animals needing treatment or feed. Particularly those stranded at properties undergoing disaster identification investigation by Victoria Police.

Furthermore, the location of deceased animals (for example, kangaroos, cattle, horses, sheep, goats, cats, dogs, etc) were able to be handled promptly. With the rapid retrieval of data collected using Crest seamlessly translated into work orders for the Stock Recovery teams.

Nillumbik was subsequently praised for the timeliness and accuracy of reports. And as a result, were able to play a vital role in the analysis of post fire damage.

  • Victorian Spatial Excellence Awards – Infrastructure and Construction Award (2009)