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NSW the first state for response and recovery communications

NSW awarded for Excellence in Emergency Communication

Publication date: Wednesday, 27 June 2018

The NSW State Emergency Service (SES) and the NSW Office of Emergency Management (OEM) have taken out a clean sweep at the EMPA 2018 Awards for Excellence in Emergency Communication.

The Emergency Media and Public Affairs awards were presented in Melbourne earlier this month. The NSW SES won the award for Excellence in Response and Recovery for its NSW SES Media App, while the NSW OEM was highly commended in the same category for its dedicated Disaster Recovery Facebook Page.  

These Awards showcase how emergency agencies in NSW are embracing technology and adapting their communications to help our communities respond to emergencies and to recover from disasters.

The winning NSW SES Media App was developed by NSW SES and developer Andy Grace based on an existing platform that was modified for SES use. Using the app, SES volunteer media officers can send videos, images or audio quickly and easily to operational response teams and to the media to help update the community. As the content can be sent almost immediately, this functionality saves valuable time by removing the need for volunteers to return to a computer to download and send video footage they have taken in the field.

The app is a valuable resource for SES Region and State Headquarter officials, as they can immediately access content as it is shot in the field and also have greater visibility on the content being distributed. They can also send messages in the app, and map the locations of volunteers using the app in real-time, which allows for faster and more effective deployment of the volunteer media officers. The app is currently being rolled progressively out to volunteer media officers within NSW SES.

The OEM's highly commended dedicated Disaster Recovery Facebook page boasts a novel approach to using social media to communicate with local communities that have been challenged by disaster. In the first days and weeks following a disaster, impacted communities are desperate for clear, timely and accurate information. Normal communication channels are often disrupted throughout disasters and people are often displaced from their homes and communities, making traditional communication methods less effective. With more than 16 million Australian accounts, community-led Facebook groups become vital information hubs for impacted people.

The dedicated Disaster Recovery Facebook page was launched by NSW OEM during the recent Tathra bushfire recovery effort. As well as sharing official news and events relating to the recovery, the page has enhanced OEM's ability to listen and respond to emerging community issues. This has proven valuable to the Tathra community, and will be adapted to disaster-affected areas across NSW in the future.

The annual Awards for Excellence in Emergency Communication were established by not-for-profit organisation Emergency Media and Public Affairs to recognise those who have made a significant contribution to emergency communications in Australia and New Zealand.

You can find out more about emergency management in NSW and how you can prepare for an emergency on the NSW SES and the Office of Emergency Management websites.

Above: Ferns growing in Tathra bushland after the fires in March 2018.

Above: NSW SES volunteer media officers using the award-winning SES Media App.