Emergencies require rapid collection of data
In the event of a natural disaster or other emergency, access to accurate and timely situational analysis is critical.
For the Department of Human Services, emergency situations require rapid aggregation of information from a range of sources, from state emergency services to national bodies like the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
When responding to an emergency, the department requires a clear, easily accessible snapshot of the situation.
Until recently, department personnel collated information and produced reports manually in a time-consuming process. The department had a clear priority to make situation reports as timely and accurate as possible.
Introducing Emergency Response Intelligence Capability
Working with the department, through the Human Services Delivery Research Alliance, we developed Emergency Response Intelligence Capability (or ERIC) software to automate situation reporting during large-scale emergency events.
ERIC integrates data from a range of state and federal agency sources (including state emergency services, the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Bureau of Meteorology, and state road authorities) into a single web-based map interface. This allows department staff to view where and how conditions are affecting the area, in real time.
ERIC’s reports are also captured and stored within a consolidated database, allowing department personnel to retrieve regular historical snapshots where once only the latest situational analysis was available.
The software also provides department personnel with automated situation reports to replace previous manual reporting – reducing the time taken per report from a few hours to as little as 20 minutes.
Aiding bushfire recovery
In emergencies, a clear and accurate understanding of the situations is essential for an effective response.
We created ERIC to integrate data from numerous government agencies to provide a clear and accurate understating of emergency situations for Department of Human Services workers.
The data is displayed in a web-based map which allows department workers to see what’s going on in real time, so that they can better serve Australians.
ERIC can reduce the time take to assemble a situation report from a few hours to 20 minutes, helping the department deliver the right help in the right place at the right time.
Elements of ERIC were successfully tested during bushfires in the summer of 2012-13. The tests demonstrated the opportunities for government agencies to leverage data from emergency services agencies for significant secondary purposes, including post-emergency claims and infrastructure management.
A public version of ERIC is also available. This version does not include situation reporting features and some content is excluded for copyright reasons.
We are now investigating possibilities for expanding ERIC’s scope, including potential integration with other CSIRO tools like our Emergency Situation Awareness software that tracks social media trends and data during disaster events.