When he went to bed on December 30, 2019, Jack Egan checked the Fires Near Me application to see the development of bush fires at his home in Australia.’s east coast. Nearly 30 km away, he hoped the fire would go out overnight.
But at 6 o’clock in the morning, warnings and text messages began to arrive. The fire had driven towards the city of Rosedale in New South Wales. At 10 am, the people there were urged to seek protection. Egan’His colleague Cath Bowdler was evacuated to the coastline while he stayed to try to save their home. But when a firestorm roars and property along the road lights up, the heat proves to be too much.
“I knew I would die if I got the wrong foot but I really didn’t do it’“I don’t have time to be afraid,” Egan said when he realized he was’I had to jump through a window and run 30 meters to a neighbor’The basement when his house was engulfed in flames. “I’m more afraid of Cath that he doesn’t’“I didn’t make it to the beach.”
Australia’s unprecedented fires have burned up to 11 million hectares, claimed more than 30 lives, 2,700 homes and an estimated one billion animals. In the disaster, the Fires Near Me application made by NSW Rural Fire Service, was used compulsively by people in areas affected by forest fires and beyond to monitor the ongoing crisis in the worst hit country. In November alone, it was downloaded 1.28 million times.
Assistant Commissioner Kelly Browne, firefighter’s CIO, told his brother Healthcare IT News publicatin HIMSS Insights that the application was one of the important tools used to reach people in the danger zone. ““It is definitely our intention to ensure that we provide the latest and timely information to the public so that they can make decisions about what to do,” he said.
Fires Near Me was launched more than five years ago, but technology updates including a new AWS scaleable platform plus additional functionality contribute to “big wave of users “this fire season.
This application allows people to set the watch zone to receive warnings about fires in the area. Fire is displayed on the map and users can zoom in, tap on the fire icon and see its details, including the emergency warning level and whether the fire is out of control. The application also displays the burned area, highlighting the scale of the disaster.
Browne said the ease of use of Fires Near Me and the public’Increased dependence on the application helps direct people to official information. “Whenever we have the chance, we will say check out public websites or see Fires Near Me so that it is something that we strongly promote to ensure there is a source of truth for information about this fire, and that it is not’t word of mouth or social media. People actually go to the source, which is the NSW Fire Service, for original information. “
NSW RFS has also shared its learning with other jurisdictions to help ensure connected publics can access accurate emergency details online.
But one problem with increasing dependence on technology is telecommunications infrastructure, with power outages knocking out reach and towers suffering damage due to fires that reach 1,000 degrees Celsius. Telecommunications companies have worked hard to continually restore fallen services, and send cellular Wi-Fi and charging stations to evacuation centers.
For Jack Egan and Cath Bowdler, network outages meant that for two painful hours they did not’don’t know if the others have survived. As soon as the campfire passed, they looked for one another – their house being burned was no longer a major concern. ““It’s gone, it’s a fact, and its contents and memories and possessions,” said Egan.
Finally he saw him in a crowd on a nearby beach and they met each other’arm. “What is important for us is that we are still alive and not hurt and we are reunited, and that is a strong experience. “
The federal government and telecommunications companies are now working to prevent future outages, with greater investment in satellite technology and temporary towers that can be dropped into zones that are destroyed on the table. This means that the role of applications during disasters will continue to grow.
For Egan, that was very important, because he believed Fires Near Me had saved lives. “I strongly suspect there will be more deaths without it. “
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