Information Sharing and Collaboration for Emergency Services forum

I was very grateful to be able to speak at an Information Sharing and Collaboration for Emergency Services forum held in Melbourne on 12 May.  The forum organisers invited auDA to participate in this event as they were specifically interested in us sharing information about the Community Geographic Domain Name (CGDN) websites that we set up for “Black Saturday”-affected communities and, more recently,  Queensland and Victorian Flood affected communities.

Just to give you a bit of background – in 2009 we temporarily* registered 28 CGDNs and created websites for use by communities that had been affected by the “Black Saturday” bushfires, for example: www.wandong.vic.au .

We hoped that they would provide a forum for community members to exchange information and experiences, share emergency/aftermath strategies, provide links to important information outlets and to celebrate the efforts of communities as they rebuild and so on.

Communities that had existing CGDN websites, such as Mirboo North at www.mirboonorth.vic.au in Gippsland, advised us that the local emergency information that their websites provided during the bushfires in January/February 2009 were much utilised and indicated that local websites can have a huge influence on the protection and communication for their communities.

We similarly* set up some community websites for the recent Queensland and Victorian flood affected communities – more details are at: http://www.cgdn.org.au/resources/floodaffectedCGDNs/

Back to the forum – I was able to share some of the feedback that communities have provided us regarding accessing and sharing emergency information to the forum participants, which included representatives from the National Safety Council of Australia, Department of Defence, QLD Police Service, State Emergency Services NSW, Country Fire Authority VIC and the NSW Rural Fire Service.

Feedback we received from communities across Australia indicated that ideally there should be:

a)      One localised portal that provides the forum for authorities to communicate local emergency information and provide links to rebuilding information and,

b)      Access to localised content syndication.  Authorities could provide localised (rather than just state-wide) RSS feeds that would ease the need for community members to rifle through many screens to get to information that may relate to their locality/region.  These feeds can then automatically be fed to their feed reader or feed directly into their community website.  An example of this is at the following page of Clifton’s, (in QLD) community site: www.clifton.qld.au/weather

In addition, I was able to share other benefits that these CGDN websites provided to the “Black Saturday” affected communities, such as helping with the healing process by allowing a forum for community members to remember people lost, share stories, thank people, look at what worked well in relation to the aftermath, evacuation, etc.  It also provided a tool to encourage visitors and the promotion of existing businesses to help facilitate the economic recovery.

For more information about CGDNs, please go to www.cgdn.org.au

* auDA agreed to temporarily waive the Policy Rules and Guidelines for CGDNs for these domain names to  provide this communication facility for these affected communities.  If the CGDNs couldn’t/can’t be transferred to an eligible entity before the first 2 years’ licences expire then the CGDNs were/will be deleted.

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