Critical Event Management

Significant strides in digital technology have been taken in governance and improvement of basic public services. Digital solutions platforms and tools, in light of the plethora of crises in 2020, have been a huge boon to disaster preparedness initiatives and critical event management. 

As one of the countries across the world which records the most number of earthquakes, the Indonesian government is preparing better for the occurrence of this calamity by innovating. According to a statement, the state’s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysical Agency (BMKG) announced that it is enhancing its data gathering systems to obtain more accurate data and parameters on earthquakes. 

To do this, the agency, in collaboration with state-owned firm PT Len Industri, is installing more earthquake monitoring systems across Indonesia under its early warning programme called the Indonesia Tsunami Early Warning System or the InaTEWS. 

The system is an intricate web that combines seismic information, GPS and Buoy Data, as well as Tide Gauge Data. Of this information, seismic data forms an integral part of the InaTEWS system as it can detect potential tsunamis in 4 to 5 minutes after the onslaught of an earthquake. 

Improving the InaTEWS programme builds on earlier initiatives implemented in 2019 when the BMKG installed 194 monitoring stations across the country. By the end of 2020, it reinstalled 39 stations of its regional station under the Mini Regional Installation Project. These additions bring the total number of seismograph applications to 411 units. 

The BMKG considers the completion of its regional station as last year’s milestone as it was done according to timelines and as the station is now fully operational despite difficulties due to restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Randy Dwi Rahardian, Head of PT Len Industri’s Mini Regional Installation Project, explained that some of the issues they hurdled during the installation phase include limited transportation and distribution options. some installation sites are geographically isolated and difficult to reach, particularly those in Sulawesi and Maluku and other sites in Central and Eastern Indonesia. Availability of transportation modes for distribution of goods has also been limited due to restrictions on ship departure schedules and the number of ships. The current pandemic situation has had a huge impact on project implementation. But with strong project planning and monitoring, he is confident that the nation can get through it well. 

The BMKG stated that as more installation sites are completed, seismic sensors will be able to predict with more accuracy the speed and other details of earthquakes and tsunamis. To make the programme more reliable, there is now a posthole seismometer system in place where a seismometer, the device that can detect and respond to ground motions produced during earthquakes, is inserted underground. This can help reduce what the agency called environmental noise. As a result, there is an improvement in data quality. 

Putting up more early-warning sensors and earthquake infrastructure 

In the same statement, the state-owned firm said that it is looking at improving its services to be able to add to early warning devices that the country can use. As a maintenance unit of the InaTEWS, it is now improving the programme by ensuring the integrity and availability of earthquake data, with the end goal of keeping data availability above 90%. This can be done by ensuring the proper placement of seismometers and even maintaining proper temperature and humidity levels of the seismometers. 

The firm added that while most products and tech knowledge used in earthquake detection come from other countries, it is confident that there will be a transfer of technology initiative that can be implemented by Indonesia in the future. 

This statement comes on the heels of earlier efforts made by other state-owned companies to integrate technology into their operations. As previously cited by OpenGov Asia, government-owned enterprises are tapping on innovative systems like the Enterprise Resource Planning programme to build more sustainable ecosystems and streamline their services.

As the world grapples with the lifestyle changes brought by the new normal, governments and organisations are seeing the need to set stricter security measures during this age of digital transformation. 

One of these institutions is the Philippine Senate which is looking at investigating alleged cases of hacked credit cards and online bank accounts. This announcement comes as these new forms of fraud continue to rise amid a steady increase in online transactions during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In a media release, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, the Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banks and Financial Institutions, said that the resolution to probe into cases of phishing and online bank theft is an initial step to stem the growing number of these cases. The investigation is also seen to ward off future digital scams. 

The senator expressed concern about the sophisticated methods that have been devised to lure and scam the public through digital means. He added: “Despite the fact that we have mechanisms, it turns out that they are not enough so the thieves continue to carry out this kind of theft.” 

The Philippine government has initiated early on several initiatives aimed at addressing issues in cybersecurity and bank fraud. Among them is Republic Act 8484 otherwise known as the Access Devices Regulation Act. It outlines liabilities of parties in commercial transactions by regulating the use of access devices like cars, codes, account numbers and electronic serial numbers.  

Similarly, RA 9792 or the Electronic Commerce Act of 2000 was adopted to foster an information technology-friendly climate that supports information and communications technology products and services. The Act covers any data message and electronic document in both commercial and non-commercial activities like international dealings, transactions and arrangements. 

The Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 builds on the foundation set by the E-Commerce Act. As the government continues to harness the advantages of leveraging digital products and solutions, the Cybercrime Prevention measure aims to combat offenses related to online transactions and arrangements by “facilitating detection, investigation and prosecution at both the domestic and international levels.” Aside from this, the current Data Privacy Act is being carried out to set security measures to shield valuable consumer data gathered from different transactions. 

The senator also underscored that although these legislations have been helpful in improvising schemes to prevent data breach and theft, the public remains vulnerable to online activities like phishing, hacking and stealing of personal information.  

These scenarios have been made more apparent today with consumers increasingly looking at the ease and convenience brought by digital programmes in helping them accomplish their everyday, mundane routines. At the onset of safety restrictions and health protocols, new software applications have been devised, particularly in online shopping and promotion of cashless, virtual transactions. One of these efforts is in the transportation sector. As reported by OpenGov Asia, cashless payments in tollways have already been adopted to ease traffic congestion. 

The senator said that with the proliferation of this wide array of digital schemes, there may be loopholes and aspects not covered by existing laws in the country. One of the solutions to this hurdle is to encourage institutions that offer digital transactions to reinvent their existing online procedures and fortify their security programmes. This way, data security will be made effective. 

To further explain, the senator highlighted that the onus in ensuring data security for bank transactions is on financial institutions. He emphasised, “[The] obligations of banks and companies offering lighter electronic transactions [are to] guarantee the welfare and security of their clients, as well as their personal information. Even if they upgrade their services, evil spirits will also be bold enough to cover up their theft. The banking industry must also have a mechanism to immediately address the grievances or complaints of their customers.” 

A virtual disaster resilience programme has been launched in the Philippines in a bid to improve disaster preparedness and further scale up community resilience. 

The local government of Muntinlupa City has recently unveiled the Mobile Learning Hub, an application that gives insights on disaster and emergency protocols through virtual reality. The Hub is a project of the Department of Disaster Resilience and Management (DDRM) and is the first of this type of disaster preparedness project in Metro Manila. 

Muntinlupa City Mayor Jaime Fresnedi referred to this project as a state-of-the-art ‘learning bus’. He highlighted that once open to the public, the Hub shall provide better disaster prevention tips by using VR representations.  

The Mayor explained that city residents looking to get more insights on disaster preparedness can visit the Hub’s VR area. Once inside, residents will be given VR headsets and instructions. The Hub shall provide a realistic backdrop of what transpires during a calamity through holistic, visual and sound-based reflections of various weather disturbances. 

The Hub has an interactive lecture area where informative materials and videos on disaster prevention, first aid response and management, life support protocols and other calamity preparedness measures shall be showcased. Learning materials covering COVID-19 protective measures shall also form part of the exhibit. 

It is anticipated that as residents experience being in “close-to-actual” scenarios during natural calamities like earthquakes, floods, volcanic eruptions and storms, they will be more familiar with emergency and disaster procedures. Residents are likewise exposed virtually to other disasters like bomb explosions, landslides and even chemical poisoning through the virtual hub. 

The City Mayor added that the Learning Hub can be utilised to empower and entice more residents of the Muntinlupa to improve their preparedness. This is one solution that the City said will spread more awareness on climate change adaptation and risk reduction. 

For his part, Muntinlupa City DDRM Chief Erwin Alfonso said they are looking at providing mainstream disaster mitigation and resiliency measures. This they plan to achieve by providing different learning resources to communities and sectors considered more vulnerable to certain calamities. 

The DDRM Chief also stated: “The Learning Hub is expected to visit several communities during the time of the pandemic. [H]ealth and safety protocols will be strictly implemented and regular disinfection of the facility will be conducted.”  

As of writing, the complete schedule of operations of the Mobile Learning Hub is yet to be released on DDRM’s Facebook page. 

This recent addition to the local city government’s roster of disaster preparedness schemes comes on the heels of the release of the 2020 Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index (CMCI). The Index showed that Muntinlupa ranked first in resiliency among highly urbanised cities. In terms of competitiveness, Muntinlupa ranked fifth while the City of Manila topped the list, followed closely by Davao, Pasay and Makati.

The CMCI is an annual ranking created by the Department of Trade and Industry and the National Competitiveness Council which covers over 140 cities and municipalities nationwide. The criteria used by the Index include economic dynamism, government efficiency, infrastructure and resiliency to calamities and disasters. 

The local and national governments are making strides in their rollout of innovative projects intended to ensure smooth transactions in government. With this objective on the table, the government allocated a bigger budget this year to the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT). A big chunk of this budget will be allotted for the department’s National Broadband Programme or the NBP.  

This month, as cited in a report by OpenGov Asia, the DICT said it has installed 4,395 live broadband sites under its Free Wi-Fi for All Programme (FW4A) This number is a massive increase from the number of internet sites put up since 2016.

The NSW Department of Customer Service’s Spatial Services division has teamed up with the CSIRO’s Data61 to make the state government’s Digital Twin available to assist emergency services in developing effective emergency management strategies.

The Digital Twin Visualisation Service, developed in collaboration with Data61, will be updated with a new 3D spatial dataset mapping the locations of telecommunications towers and critical assets across NSW.

This new dataset will be used to enable emergency services to better protect these vital locations before and during a disaster. The new capability has been developed in response to the NSW Independent Bushfire Inquiry, which identified the loss of connectivity as one of the recurring issues faced during the devastating last bushfire season.

The enquiry found that the reliable sharing of critical infrastructure, telecommunications and spatial information will be a key component to preventing a similarly devastating summer in 2020–21.

The Head of Resilience NSW and previously NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner stated that there is nothing more powerful than the spatial layers to paint the picture about what’s at risk, so having access to the Digital Twin allows for the investigation into preventative and mitigation strategies.

He added, “in an unfolding emergency, like a bushfire, we can know in advance what’s likely to happen in that fire in the next few days, making sure we can shore up protection as much as we can. Having a Digital Twin for communications infrastructure means we can factor into our risk planning and our annual treatments in the months and years before a fire impact.”

The Data61 Web Geospatial Systems Group Leader also noted that the collaboration highlights Data61’s role as an ecosystem enabling data infrastructure, helping governments and industry make better planning decisions.

He said the Digital Twin Visualisation Service leverages Data61’s deep strength in web-mapping and visualising data in 4D (3D + time, which is the ability to look forward and back in time) to build a real-world digital twin that can help protect communities and assets in times of need.

Using tech to help navigate bushfires

OpenGov Asia previously reported on the recently-launched  My Bushfire Plan website and mobile app which guide users through the creation of a plan in easy-to-follow steps that can be completed in just minutes. Designed and built-in WA, the new platform is an Australian first innovation commissioned by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services.

The website and companion app will assist people to make critical decisions ahead of the bushfire season. It will help them decide what they will do if a bushfire threatens their home and guide them to identify when they will leave, what they will take and where they will go.

Having a plan in place before a bushfire strikes can make all the difference when decisions made during a highly stressful event can cost lives. The new website and app were launched in conjunction with a bushfire awareness advertising campaign.

The campaign urges people to rethink their personal risk with just one in 10 Western Australians having a bushfire plan. The $1 million How Fireproof is Your Plan? campaign asks the community to evaluate their bushfire plans by showing the devastating consequences of being caught in a raging fire.

The new My Bushfire Plan website and mobile app are very straightforward and contain some vital information that can save lives or properties. Users must know beforehand what actions they will take during a bushfire and having a plan in place at their fingertips during an emergency could be the difference between life and death.

The World Bank has formally approved a multi-million dollar financial grant that would spur the digital transformation of the Philippines as the country continues to recover from the pandemic, improve competitiveness, and build resilience against shocks and natural disasters.

The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors unveiled the granting of a US$ 600 million grant called Promoting Competitiveness and Enhancing Resilience to Natural Disasters Development Policy Loan that will be used to adopt a string of digital technologies in the country. 

The lender foresees that this undertaking will bring in more investments into the Philippines as new technology fosters improved competition and upscales ease of doing business. The project is intended to provide inclusive recovery by accelerating the development of digital infrastructure under the area of telecommunications. Through this project, the shift to digital transactions and an e-governance framework will be fast-tracked.  

The World Bank aims to help the government reduce trade and indemnity costs as it makes the transition to an e-governance framework. Another goal is to assist the Philippine government in cutting back on the costs of doing business. The result, the World Bank explained, is an economic recovery on the back of job creation. The financial grant is also anticipated to help Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to “bounce back” after sustaining a heavy beating during the pandemic. 

The funding can also be used to improve the delivery of social assistance to disadvantaged members of the population while enhancing health and safety protocols as the country continues its battle to stem the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus. 

Ndiamé Diop, World Bank Country Director for Brunei, Malaysia, The Philippines and Thailand, said: “Reforms to improve digital infrastructure and speed up adoption of digital technologies will not only help the country’s efforts to recover from the impacts of the pandemic but will also boost its export competitiveness that is vital for creating more and better jobs in the future”. 

The Country Director added that the World Bank is likewise intent on helping the Philippine government streamline its adoption of a national ID system which it describes as a fundamental reform to enhance existing social programmes and to protect vulnerable groups during natural disasters.  

The World Bank loan will further sustain the Philippine government’s momentum as it adopts new technologies to shore up government transactions especially during the pandemic. OpenGov Asia has previously reported that the country is modernising its tourism sector by launching applications that can enhance its safety protocols. 

Helping address poverty 

In the same statement, the World Bank mentioned that aside from the loan for digital infrastructure, it is also extending a US$300 million Additional Financing for KALAHI-CIDSS National Community Driven Development Project (KC-NCDDP) to help the government alleviate poverty, particularly in rural areas.  The funding is to be used in improving community response initiatives and basic social services intended for municipalities deemed most affected by the impacts of the pandemic. 

The KC-NCDDP is set to be implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government.  Currently, the DSWD has a roster of community projects including the provision of basic facilities like access roads and reliable water systems in local communities which have limited internal revenue allotments and those which are not easily accessible because of geographic isolation. 

The Country Director noted, “Community-driven development approaches have shown to be effective in accelerating community reconstruction following disaster events and efficiently putting money for priority needs of communities around the world”. 

The World Bank is one of the world’s sources of funding. Aside from the Philippines, the lender has collaborated with several developing countries and is set to grant as much as US$160 billion until June 2021 to more than 100 countries to help support businesses and boost economic activity. It is also allotting US$12 billion for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines. 

The number and complexity of critical events impacting businesses and governments are on the rise.

Today’s crises are triggered by events both inside and outside of an organisation’s control: the global pandemic, severe weather changes, IT outages and even cybersecurity threats. They disrupt operations, threaten people, compromise assets, and impact reputation.

In this high-risk environment, organisations need to leverage the right technologies, people and processes to make informed decisions, with consistent monitoring by multi-disciplinary team members. As a result, decision-makers have been on the look-out for solutions to overcome systemic problems and maintain business operations in the long term.

While the world is focused on the health and economic threats posed by COVID-19, cyber criminals around the world undoubtedly are capitalising on this crisis. Cybercriminals know that we are vulnerable. A spike in ransomware operations globally is adding to an already complex crisis management cycle for many organisations. It won’t stop there. Challenges have increased as cyber-threats and more IT incidents emerge due to inefficiency in responses and processes, causing downtime and rise of cost. Providing an adequate cyber risk management strategy, therefore, is imperative.

To address these issues, experts in the field of critical event management processes gave extremely helpful presentations during the OpenGovLive! Virtual Insight not just on projected effects of cyber threats, but on procedures that must be put in place in case of an actual cyberattack.

The session held on 10 December 2020 was attended by delegates from the Indian and APAC region, all eager to engage in an active discussion on the topic of Strengthening Cybersecurity and Emergency Preparedness: Enhancing Readiness, Response and Recovery

Planning ahead and adopting a resilient strategy

Mohit Sagar: We must think, not as a nation, but as a world

Mohit Sagar, Group Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief at OpenGov Asia, set the tone and stage for the discussion. He acknowledged that incident management was not a new concept but remains one of the top priorities of companies even today. The reason, Mohit said, is that incidents involving data compromise and those related to cyber threats continue to grow in complexity and number.

The outright reaction of most enterprises after a critical event is that they feel lost, even though they may have prepared for such an event. The question to be asked, Mohit stressed, is not why a critical event happened. The more appropriate question to raise is up to what extent a company has prepared itself for that incident.

Another relevant point raised by Mohit was a critical event’s impact on staff. Most employees are uncertain if they should admit they lack the readiness to comply with protocols in the event a critical situation arises. No employee should bear the brunt of a company’s lack of preparation for emergency incidents. Readiness is always key.

The solution, Mohit opined, is a resilient strategy to counteract the effects of cyber and other critical emergencies. This element is crucial and has been epitomised during the COVID-19 pandemic when many businesses were left at a loss on how to recuperate.

With regard to planning ahead, the issue is at what speed and cost? This is where operational resiliency comes into play. Similarly, another key issue is culture. The problem involving culture is reflected more clearly in the case of conglomerates which find it hard to keep everything working large-scale.

In the end, there should be seamless communication, a well-orchestrated platform for critical events management and seamless delivery of services. This, Mohit said, can be achieved, by teaming up with the right partners who can help keep the business working in top shape.

What makes incident management complex

Sonia Arista: No critical event management process is singular but a mix of various factors

One of the key challenges in coming up with an incident management strategy is that many consider it a difficult process to manage and oftentimes, confusing.

Sonia Arista, Vice President and Chief Senior Information Security Officer, Everbridge, dispelled this worry. She discussed that critical event management is not a singular process. Many factors are at play in setting forth a CEM strategy. There are also different stages in standard critical event management.

At the initial stage, companies must assess the type of disruption that might occur, as well as the extent of damages. From there, decisions must be made on who needs to know about the CEM plan and who designated response teams are. The last phase is communication. Companies should not keep any incident hidden from employees. Communicating to shareholders and customers is likewise advisable.

Aside from these, a post-mortem analysis identifying areas of improvement should also be conducted.

Sonia went on to enumerate some of the critical events that might occur at any particular point in time. These include theft, IT failure and cyber attacks. In many cases, a company is not just hit by one emergency but a plethora of critical events. This is where a critical event management process comes in.

Sonia wrapped up her presentation by reiterating the useful components of an effective CEM plan. She stated that companies should always be knowledgeable about a possible emergency. It must notify all concerned persons and improve on its existing incident management process.

Building cybersecurity readiness

Charlotte Wood: Critical events are always going to happen; mitigate effects by being prepared

When it comes to cyber threats, having an incident management protocol means more than just ensuring that everything and everyone is well-prepared.

This was the clear message of Charlotte Wood, Director, Policy and Awareness Cyber Security NSW of the New South Wales Government, to participants during the OpenGovLive! virtual session.

According to Charlotte, three things should be considered in the fight against cyber attack: confidentiality, integrity and availability.

Confidentiality means only authorised users and processors shall have access to data and integrity relates to the way data should be handled. Likewise, authorised users must always have access to available data.

Speaking about risks, Charlotte identified the financial risks associated with cyber attacks. To plan, Charlotte says, the trick is to look at risk likelihood and risk impact.

She added that people are the biggest vulnerabilities of companies. To address this, there must be a process on people control. As to possible threats, Charlotte outlined a few. These include human error, insider action and sabotage. In anticipation of these threats, putting a set of controls is important.

Preparation to reduce the impact should occupy the biggest slice of the pie when setting up a critical events management process. Focusing on technical teams for real-world events and in-depth exercise for tech teams in case of a data breach and similar incidents would mitigate the impact of cyber threats.

Charlotte ended the discussion by leaving some food for thought for the attendees: softening the blow of critical events should be a continuous process. It is about educating people as well as encouraging early detection.

Lastly, Charlotte emphasised the importance of having people in charge know what is happening and its impact to make the right decisions.

Going beyond technological aspects

Jim Fitzsimmons: CEM is a collaborative effort, not purely a tech one

Many businesses and organisations believe that the tech aspect of a critical events management process is a top priority. However, this aspect is just the initial stage of addressing risks and their impact. What needs to be focused on is how to have a structured approach when a critical situation arises.

Jim Fitzsimmons, Director – Cyber Security Consulting at Control Risks, gave thought-provoking points during the OpenGov Asia session. He emphasised that addressing lapses in the technological aspect of operations is often the starting point which can branch out into bigger problems like regulatory impacts and in some cases, health and human safety impact. These are things that go beyond what emergency response teams can do. Businesses must acknowledge that issues arise not just due to technology.

For Jim, information gaps regarding incident management are rarely addressed by companies. Oftentimes, many companies find out about an incident after it has happened. This leaves them taking up considerable time trying to figure out what happened and why an incident happened.

The solution, Jim said, is to be more structured on the type of questions to ask. These may include what to do during the onslaught of critical events and how to address them. This way, a critical events management strategy will not be a blind process.

To sum up his discussion, Jim added that it is equally important to approach problems through collaborative effort and see incident management as a process that cannot be purely delegated to the tech team. The trick then, he noted, is to have a balanced, well-structured approach with a view of potential risks and impacts while working collaboratively as a team.

After the interesting points discussed by the speakers, participants of the virtual session were engaged in polling questions regarding incident management and cyber attacks.

When asked about key concerns in cybersecurity that the participants’ organisations consider, almost half (40%) answered that employee education in IT security is a challenge.

A senior delegate from the public sector in India shared that the primary issue that they had to address was reluctance from employees to report cyber attacks. He felt that most organisations tend to have a standard response to all cyber threats. The problem with this is that the type of response must be based on the type of cyber attack.

As to how organisations measure the effectiveness of cybersecurity, an overwhelming number (85%) of respondents chose the ability to respond effectively to an impending cyber threat.

To elaborate, a participant from Hongkong stressed that it is not enough to only have protocols on managing cyber attacks. She believed that it would be risky if there are no methods which could be utilised to measure the extent of cyber threats. This is in addition to the reality that measurement of damage is difficult to manage.

In rating their level of preparedness for an impending cyber attack, a majority of attendees (85%) said that they are well-prepared but are not sure if they can withstand the resulting infiltration brought by cyber-attacks,

The session came to a close with Sonia leaving a reminder that risks are all around and may arise unexpectedly. Cyberthreats come in many forms including internal threats. The solution, she said, is for companies to keep an eye on the likelihood of risks and also doing a thorough assessment of critical events. 

To be able to come up with a sound critical events management strategy which promotes preparedness, resilience and recoverySonia encouraged participants during the session to reach out and work hand-in-hand with highly-skilled incident management groupsBy partnering with experts like Sonia and her teamcompanies and government agencies can be assured of a reliable mechanism that will be an additional safeguard in case of any unforeseen incident in the workplace surfaces. 

An incubatee at the Hong Kong Smart Government Innovation Lab recently announced that it has launched a new solution which is now ready to be acquired by companies and institutions.

Solution description

The solution uses drones, which can be equipped with thermal energy detection systems and sensors on the camera lens. The detected images are transmitted back to the system in real-time through 4G/5G, and the images are processed by Artificial Intelligence (AI) to find objects with a specific temperature (for example, they can detect the human body temperature and can effectively find people who are isolated in mountainous areas).

The solution can also detect temperature deviation, area and location, find out the area that is burning and identify any scattered burning debris, and immediately report the relevant situation to the relevant departments. If the fire source is found, the system will assign another drone to load a water-filled capsule, fly to the fire source via the global positioning system, and then throw the water-filled capsule at a specific height to extinguish the fire.

Application Areas

The solution was designed to be applied across a variety of areas including Broadcasting, Environment as well as Search and Rescue.

Technologies Used

The solution employs Artificial Intelligence (AI), Cloud Computing, Deep Learning, Mobile Technologies, Predictive Analytics and Video Analytics.

Use Case

The drones are equipped with a thermal detection sensor lens and an Artificial Intelligence (AI) computing program, which can effectively assist in the search and rescue of people who have lost contact with help in outdoor activities (hiking, paraglider, canoe, etc.). Moreover, through the installation of a broadcasting system, the solution can perform multiple searches and rescue operations as well as relay broadcasts.

CEM solutions to fight fire

OpenGov Asia recently reported that similar technology is being deployed in Australia to help fight bushfires. Australia is currently developing its first CubeSat to predict where bushfires are likely to start and those that will be difficult to contain.

The development will take place at The Australian National University’s (ANU) Mt Stromlo campus. The team to build an optical system that can detect changes on the ground through infrared detectors onboard the satellite. The ANU team will partner with other researchers and the private sector to complete the project and launch the new satellite into low-Earth orbit.

The satellite will accurately measure forest fuel load and vegetation moisture levels across Australia. The technology will be specifically tuned to detect changes in Australian plants and trees such as eucalyptus, which are highly flammable.

With this mission, the team will receive high-resolution infrared images and data of fuel conditions that will help firefighters on the ground. This infrared technology and data, which is not currently available, will help to target controlled-burns that can reduce the frequency and severity of bushfires, as well as their long-term impacts on Australia’s people, economy, and environment.

This satellite will be the first in a constellation of remote sensing satellites that will monitor Australia’s environment. The constellation will be designed to have a positive impact on Australia’s property management, insurance, geological, agriculture and defence industries.

The team will gradually build up the capacity to monitor these bushfire risks in Australia. At first, they are focusing on long-term monitoring. Within the next five years, they plan to be able to monitor changes to the landscape and environment in real-time.

CEM tech critical to boosting safety

Both solutions are examples of CEM technology. Critical event management has come to the fore with the pandemic. Forecasting, planning and management of critical events help organisations and authorities prevent disruption of life and damage to property. As regions and countries across the world battle wildfires and other natural calamities, Everbridge’s public warning solutions have been developed to significantly aid the mitigation of harm caused by such critical events.

With the pandemic forecast to be around for some time, planning responses to adverse events must continue alongside COVID-19 management. In light of this, it is expedient for governments to re-look at their systems, tools, processes and platforms they have in place to manage critical events.

Western Australians will have no excuse this bushfire season not to be better prepared with a new mobile app and website making the preparation of a bushfire survival plan much easier. The new My Bushfire Plan website and mobile app guide users through the creation of a plan in easy-to-follow steps that can be completed in just minutes. Designed and built-in WA, the new platform is an Australian first innovation commissioned by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services.

The website and companion app will assist people to make critical decisions ahead of the bushfire season. It will help them decide what they will do if a bushfire threatens their home and guide them to identify when they will leave, what they will take and where they will go.

Having a plan in place before a bushfire strikes can make all the difference when decisions made during a highly stressful event can cost lives. The new website and app have been launched in conjunction with a hard-hitting bushfire awareness advertising campaign.

The new campaign urges people to rethink their personal risk with just one in 10 Western Australians having a bushfire plan. The $1 million How Fireproof is Your Plan? campaign asks the community to evaluate their bushfire plans by showing the devastating consequences of being caught in a raging fire.

The television advertisement shows people, children and livestock trapped in dangerous bushfire scenarios after leaving it too late to leave during an emergency. The How Fireproof is Your Plan? advertising campaign will appear throughout the southern bushfire season on television, radio, print, online and billboards. The My Bushfire Plan app is available from the App Store, Google Play or on the website.

The Emergency Services Minister stated that the indecision can be deadly during a bushfire; this campaign is deliberately emotive to bring home the reality of being trapped on a property or in a car.

Research conducted by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services shows that while Western Australians understand the danger of fire and the bushfire risk for the State, most do not understand or plan for their own risk, which is why this campaign is so important.

People might think that they are prepared, but when their hose melts, the power fails or they become exhausted from the radiant heat, they will not be able to think clearly enough to make life-saving decisions.

The new My Bushfire Plan website and mobile app are very straightforward and contain some vital information that can save lives or properties.

Users must know beforehand what actions they will take during a bushfire and having a plan in place at their fingertips during an emergency could be the difference between life and death.

Fighting fire with tech

In October 2020, OpenGov Asia reported that Australia is currently developing its first CubeSat to predict where bushfires are likely to start and those that will be difficult to contain. The development will take place at The Australian National University’s (ANU) Mt Stromlo campus, led by remote-sensing expert Dr Marta Yebra and instrument scientist Dr Rob Sharp.

For this project, the ANU Institute for Space (InSpace) has awarded AU$1 million to the team to build an optical system that can detect changes on the ground through infrared detectors onboard the satellite. The ANU team will partner with other researchers and the private sector to complete the project and launch the new satellite into low-Earth orbit.

The satellite will accurately measure forest fuel load and vegetation moisture levels across Australia. The technology will be specifically tuned to detect changes in Australian plants and trees such as eucalyptus, which are highly flammable.

Pushing forward critical event management tech

The new solution is an excellent example of CEM technology. As regions and countries across the world battle wildfires and other natural calamities, Everbridge’s public warning solutions have been developed to significantly aid the mitigation of harm caused by such critical events.

Moreover, the company’s proprietary Public Warning solution enables government organizations and public safety agencies to immediately connect with every person in an affected area during a critical event regardless of nationality, residency or mobile telephone handset type.

OpenGovLive!

In collaboration with Everbridge, we hosted an OpenGovLive! Virtual Insight Session discussing practical solutions to go beyond surviving critical events risks to proactively protecting people, customers, and business operations.