Fire Shield: Share

Our goal by 2025: Every first responder, emergency services representative and community member has timely, accurate and relevant information about fires in their area.

State Of Emergency Declared In ACT As Canberra Braces For Increased Bushfire ThreatState Of Emergency Declared In ACT As Canberra Braces For Increased Bushfire Threat

Laurence Cowie chooses to stay and defend his home on Bumbalong Road, Bredbo North as fire approaches in Canberra, Australia – February 01, 2020. Photo Credit: Brook Mitchell via Getty Images.

Information in real time for immediate decisions

Providing people on the ground with accurate, timely and relevant information is critical for informed decisions and actions before, during and after disasters. Australia has seen significant progress in disaster communication in recent years, with a national focus on engaging and empowering communities.

But sometimes communications can still break down just when they are needed most. Two-way communication of information from emergency services to the community, and from the community to emergency services, is vital.

The challenge

There is an opportunity to make information easier to access and to interpret by emergency services and communities.

Information can be challenging to interpret due to: 

  • Incomplete information or information presented in a way that is difficult to comprehend. For example, during the Black Summer fires, some South Australian communities lacked information about fire direction and estimated time fires would arrive.
  • Fragmentation of different information sources. Submissions to the Royal Commission, post-Black Summer, have revealed that Australian lives were put in danger due to the lack of real-time, ground-truth information. Instead, people had to cobble together bushfire and weather information from disparate sources.
  • Language barriers. Nearly half of all Australians aged 15-65 have some difficulty reading or writing in English, and 25 per cent of Australians speak a language other than English at home, making multilingual warnings vital.

Our opportunity

Improvements in capturing, aggregating, analysing, and sharing data in close to real time can substantially improve situational awareness and the quality of decision making. The integration of multiple information sources into tailored and actionable hazard notifications will provide the appropriate information in a format that aids decisions by emergency service personnel and provides timely information for the community.

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