[LINK] Canberra Emergency Warnings About Factory Fire

Tom Worthington tom.worthington at tomw.net.au
Fri Sep 16 08:24:49 AEST 2011

The ACT Emergency Services Agency issued an emergency warning for 
Canberra at 11:52pm 15 September 2011: http://www.esa.act.gov.au/

	"Factory fire in Mitchell The ACT Fire Brigade is responding to reports 
of a large factory fire in Dacre Street at Mitchell.

	Update to follow."

At 4:10pm 16 September 2011, the Emergency Alert system was used to 
issue a message to advise "residents within a 10 kilometre radius to 
remain indoors until further notice": http://www.emergencyalert.gov.au/

Unfortunately I did not receive the message, although my mobile phone is 
registered within the danger zone. The system was last tested, 7 June 

Media reports indicated that the warning message contained spelling 
mistakes and some residents therefore concluded they were a hoax. This 
is a serious problem which needs to be investigated after the current 
emergency is over. Such messages need to be composed from pre-prepared 
and tested templates, not ad-hoc. In 2003 one of my students 
investigated what was needed for credible emergency communications: 

At 5:09am ACT ESA also commenced using Twitter as @act_esa with text 
messages summarizing the more detailed information on the ESA web site: 

At 6:37am Update 11 reported PCB and Phosgene may in the smoke plume. 
But at 6:59am "ACT Fire Brigade have confirmed testing has resulted in 
no positive readings for Phosgene to date".

In June I suggested that ACT Emergency Services Agency needed to correct 
faults in their web home page. A quick test today shows that these 
faults remain: 

There a federal parliamentary inquiry into emergency communication 
networks to report in November: 

Tom Worthington FACS CP HLM, TomW Communications Pty Ltd. t: 0419496150
PO Box 13, Belconnen ACT 2617, Australia  http://www.tomw.net.au
Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards 

Adjunct Senior Lecturer, Research School of Computer Science,
Australian National University http://cs.anu.edu.au/courses/COMP7310/

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