The following Question Without Notice was asked by the Hon Diane Evers and answered in the Upper House today by the Hon Stephen Dawson MLC representing the Emergency Services Minister, Hon Fran Logan MLA.
Hon DIANE EVERS to the minister representing the Minister for Emergency Services:
I refer to the discontinuation of the Emergency AUS app that provided real-time bushfire alert notifications and was used by many regional residents and brigades.
(1) Has the minister received requests for a replacement of the app?
(2) Is the Department of Fire and Emergency Services developing or investing in a mobile app to provide real-time bushfire alerts and notifications to residents and brigades?
(3) If yes to (2), when will it be available?
(4) If no to (2), why not?
(5) If no to (2), what alternatives does the minister suggest to ensure that people receive fast and firsthand notifications on nearby bushfires?
Hon STEPHEN DAWSON replied:
I thank the honourable member for some notice of the question.
(1) Yes. Members of the community have written to Department of Fire and Emergency Services and the minister inquiring about plans for a replacement for the defunct Emergency AUS App.
Note: The Emergency AUS app was created by Ripe Intelligence, a private company that was contracted by the South Australian government to provide a platform for its public emergency information. The app was developed as a ‘value add’ under that contract and provided free nationally. It worked by taking a direct feed from the state-based alerts and warning systems and distributed information to the community. Unfortunately, in December 2017 and January 2018, the app experienced two high-profile outages during extremely large and dangerous bushfires within the state. These outages occurred during times of significant public demand and internet traffic. The app’s failures led to the South Australian government cancelling the Alert SA contract and pursuing legal action. The app was then removed from distribution by Ripe Intelligence.
(2) It will not be made available.
(3) Not applicable.
(4)–(5) The department is investigating options for an opt-in notification system for alerts and warnings as part of phase 2 of EmergencyWA. In Western Australia, information and alerts about emergency incidents are published on the EmergencyWA website at www.emergency.wa.gov.au. EmergencyWA was developed to be user-friendly on mobile devices. Incidents reported to the 000 phone number are published automatically and immediately to EmergencyWA. When there is a possible threat to lives and property, warnings with detailed information are provided about what action is required by the community. The community is advised to avail itself of a variety of information sources, in order to avoid any over-reliance on a single source or disruptions such as power outages, including the DFES Facebook and Twitter sites, or the 13 33 37 DFES line, and local ABC radio, to stay up to date during emergencies, and is encouraged to stay aware of their immediate surroundings and conditions in their areas.