Mobile telephones will be harnessed as early warning devices based
on their location, as Victoria stands ready to again lead the nation,
committing to the next phase of the national telephone emergency
Police and Emergency Services Minister Bob Cameron announced
Victoria had done the hard work to determine that the next step of
using Emergency Alert to send messages to mobile phones based on their
geographic location – not just billing address – was feasible.
“The Brumby Labor Government’s strong economic management means that
our State Budget has the capacity to fund new measures as we undertake
fundamental reforms to make our State as fire-safe and as fire-ready as
possible,” Mr Cameron said.
“We want to get more timely and more accurate warnings to people
potentially threatened by bushfires, so we can save more lives. Sending
warnings to individuals’ mobile phones, based on their location, will
make our State and our people safer.
“Victoria, through the Office of the Emergency Services Commissioner
(OESC), has driven this project right from the beginning, putting it on
the national agenda and making sure it could work and was delivered for
the last bushfire season.
“Now is the time for interstate governments and the Federal
Government to again come together to ensure this vital warning service
can take the next step and enhance this National Emergency Warning
System and in turn help protect people’s lives.”
Mr Cameron said the Brumby Labor Government would commit to
implementing the next phase of the warning system but needed
co-operation and funding from the Federal Government and other states
to start taking action now.
“If we get the go ahead from the Federal Government and other states
very soon, we could have this location based capability available
during the next fire season,” Mr Cameron said.
“This new warning system has already proven very useful since its
introduction last year, being used 38 times across the country, sending
over 355,000 messages to residents across Victoria, South Australia,
New South Wales and Queensland.
“We are very keen to see the Federal Government and governments of
other states to continue their input into developing this successful
system and follow the lead of Victoria in putting up funding to ensure
we can get to the next level of safety with warnings as soon as
Mr Cameron said the Brumby Labor Government’s response to the
findings of the Bushfires Royal Commission also included $7.1 million
to further boost CFA Advanced Early Warning Systems and for
investigation and installation of warning sirens.
“Along with ongoing awareness and education campaigns it’s vital we
continue enhancing our methods of getting timely and accurate warnings
on emergency situations out to communities, and our Government is
committed to delivering on the Commission’s recommendations,” he said.
Mr Cameron said the Brumby Labor Government’s commitment to
implement location-based mobile phone warnings came on top of the $21.5
million the Government is investing in FireWeb and Phoenix RapidFire –
the Australian-first fire prediction and early warning system that will
deliver specific and detailed information on the spread of fires.
The new fully-computerised, digital mapping system which will
provide up to six hours warning of the direction, speed and intensity
of a fire within minutes – instead of hours – of it being discovered.
“We want to put as much high quality, accurate and timely
information as possible in the hands of individuals, so they can make
informed decisions on how they respond to the threat of bushfires,” Mr
“One of the key messages from the Royal Commission was that early
warning of bushfires plays an extremely important role in making our
The Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Gavin Jennings said
the new technology integrated critical fire, Bureau of Meteorology
weather data, topographical information and on ground fuel data and
mapped it immediately in digital format for use by fire authorities to
predict the path and intensity of fires.
Information on FireWeb will immediately be made available to fire
authorities to inform public warnings through One Source One Message,
DSE and CFA websites and delivered to media outlets that have a
Memorandum of Understanding to provide emergency warnings.
“This system can pinpoint the location of the start of a fire to
within 20 metres and has the capacity to calculate the potential spread
of fire across the landscape under different weather, fuel load and
fire suppression scenarios,” Mr Jennings said.
“Previously, predictions about fire behaviour had to be drawn by
hand on paper and could not easily be entered into our fire mapping
system. We believe the new FireWeb system will provide exactly the type
of early warning information the Royal Commission report said would
help make Victoria safer.”
A further $13.7 million will be invested in community information
and education programs and enhanced fire safety messages, including new