[LINK] itNews: 'Emergency system given geo-location boost'
rchirgwin at ozemail.com.au
Mon Jan 16 14:29:56 EST 2012
On 16/01/12 1:44 PM, Jan Whitaker wrote:
> At 10:49 AM 16/01/2012, Richard Chirgwin wrote:
>> Regarding switched-off phones: it isn't all phones that stay active when
>> switched off, so I wouldn't trust that, and I don't know of any
>> mechanism to "force on" a smartphone because it received a particular SMS.
> There is also a traffic volume issue. During the Vic fires, I seem to
> recall that SMSs were being received hours after they were sent and
> the houses were already burning. People were stupid enough to wait
> until they were told to leave. Radio stations (ABC) were complaining
> that the emergency services were not up to date, either, so whole
> areas were under threat and the stations who were charged with
> providing alerts were not allowed to make announcements based on
> lay-callers who were alerting them to the fires.
> At some stage, common sense (both for those in the fire zones and
> those who are providing information) must prevail. So far, not so good.
We're getting somewhat off the original premise; my impulse is therefore
just to keep drifting! :-)
Fire prediction is, at the moment, something of a black art that
combines knowledge, history, experience, and information. Any number of
people claim to have cracked the job of automating it, but sufficiently
that I would bet a town on it. I knew someone whose doctorate was in
this topic; there are, in fact, a respectable number of doctorates in
building fire models for geographic information systems; we're still no
closer to a "universal" predictor which may combine:
- fuel load
- severity / scale of outbreak
...and turn this into a reliable, automated model that could say
"evacuate Booligal". By comparison, flood prediction and watershed
analysis looks simple - and we know how badly wrong that can go.
That puts the onus back onto suitable people getting information fast,
looking at maps, and making decisions - and I strongly suspect that
modern "liability" makes people reluctant to make those decisions. Or
they want to refer everything upwards, because the (stupid
sensationalist) media is in a position to crucify the person at the top
either because they made the decision, OR because they delegated it.
> Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
> jwhit at janwhitaker.com
> blog: http://janwhitaker.com/jansblog/
> business: http://www.janwhitaker.com
> Our truest response to the irrationality of the world is to paint or
> sing or write, for only in such response do we find truth.
> ~Madeline L'Engle, writer
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