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New Zealand’s emergency preparedness and critical event management tools

The new Common Alerting Protocol (CAP)  feed allows Emergency Mobile Alert (EMA) messages to be distributed by other systems connected to the internet. This will allow EMA life safety messages to get to people who are out of network coverage.

Emergency Mobile Alerts are currently only received by mobile devices that are connected to the cellular network. The new CAP feed allows messages to be distributed by systems that just need to be connected to the internet.

The National Emergency Management Agency is very keen for developers to enhance the reach of EMA by using this feed. Warning messages can be formatted in Common Alerting Protocol (CAP), an XML-based open, non-proprietary digital message format for exchanging all-hazard emergency alerts. The CAP feed can present a list of warning messages in either of the common feed formats, RSS and Atom.

Whenever an Emergency Mobile Alert is issued, the same information is now made publicly available in two places: the RSS feed and the Atom feed. These URLs make the messages available to other systems to be re-used. This could be by smartphone apps, websites or other alerting hubs that use CAP as a basis

Any agency can integrate the information into its website or apps. A test feed is available and NEMA can work with the agency to synchronise the development path with their with test message feed.

In other information, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s (MBIE) Building System Performance team and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) will help communities across New Zealand address a crucial issue – how do people living in low-lying, coastal areas evacuate in time from an impending tsunami?

To address this issue, MBIE has worked together with NEMA to produce a document which provides technical information on how to design tsunami vertical evacuation structures that can be used as a last-resort refuge for people in the event of a tsunami.

Tsunami vertical evacuation structures provide a last resort option for life safety that Civil Defence Emergency Management Groups may wish to consider. Their use is most appropriate during local source tsunami events when available evacuation time can be minutes.

“They may be a good option for low-lying, coastal areas of New Zealand, where it may not possible for all those at risk to evacuate inland, to higher elevations, or out of tsunami evacuation zones before tsunami waves arrive,” says Jenni Tipler, Manager of Engineering at MBIE.

MBIE had been hearing from several communities that this was an area of real concern for them, so they worked together with NEMA to help develop information to address this risk. The information describes in detail the design elements of an effective structure.

Some communities already have buildings available that can be identified as appropriate evacuation places, while other communities can use the information when building new structures in their area. The new technical information follows the release of the Assessment and Planning for Tsunami Vertical Evacuation Guideline for Civil Defence Emergency Management Groups in 2018.

As New Zealand matures in its approach to tsunami risk management, they continue to address some of the more difficult challenges they face in managing tsunami risk. The two-phase information produced by the National Emergency Management Agency and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment will help Civil Defence Emergency Management Groups ensure they are implementing the most appropriate and practical tsunami risk management measures when considering tsunami vertical evacuation in their areas.

The new Tsunami loads and effects on vertical evacuation structures information are available on the Building Performance website. The 2018 Assessment and Planning Guidelines for Tsunami Vertical Evacuation document is available on the NEMA website.

Earlier in July, the New Zealand Lifelines Council released the 2020 Edition of the New Zealand Critical Lifelines Infrastructure National Vulnerability Assessment. The report is available now on the Lifelines reports and resources page.

The assessment aims to provide government, industry and communities with a better understanding of 1) What is nationally significant infrastructure; and 2) Infrastructure vulnerability and its resilience to hazards.

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.

Governments rely on several, specific systems for critical event management. Such programmes are essential to national well-being especially with the increase in natural disasters. But, more often than not, they operate in isolation of each other.

According to world experts in Critical Event Management – Everbridge – this segregated perspective runs the risk of duplication of information and processes, data contradictions and, unmanaged, has the potential to lead to loss of life and property.

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.

Everbridge’s Coronavirus Preparedness can make a significant difference in mitigating harm caused by the pandemic. They provide richer intelligence and correlating threats with locations of assets and people ensuring more rapid and comprehensive incident assessment and remediation.

October 28, 2020 | 10:30AM IST | 1:00PM SG/HKT | 4:00PM AEST


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