Victoria partners with California in new emergency management deal

By David Donaldson

Thursday July 9, 2015

In an effort to share expertise, technical knowledge and training in bushfire and flood management, Victoria and California on Tuesday signed an agreement to create a broad framework for cooperation and support between the two states.

The memorandum of understanding will encourage joint initiatives in emergency management to help individuals, families, communities and businesses that have been impacted by disaster.

Despite sitting on opposite sides of the Pacific, the states share a similar climate, entailing similar challenges during emergencies such as droughts, floods and bushfires.

Victorian Minister for Emergency Services Jane Garrett and emergency management commissioner Craig Lapsley (pictured) met with American officials in Sacramento to sign the MOU.

Lapsley is head of Emergency Management Victoria, which plays a key role in implementing the Victoria’s emergency management initiatives before, during and after disasters. Lapsley said:

“Given California is currently experiencing drought conditions, there is much we can learn while we are here.

“But in the longer term, this agreement focuses on fostering joint development of initiatives that support and promote improved service delivery to the community and improved efficiency and capability to manage major emergencies.”

The signing in Sacramento is part of Minister Garrett’s visit to the United States to study the latest technologies, capability and systems.

Homeland Security deal

In Washington, Garrett and Lapsley also met with key bureaucrats in the US federal Department of Homeland Security, signing off on a partnership to help facilitate the development of standards-based approaches for enabling public safety organisations to share information and improve decision-making capabilities, regardless of differences between hazards and technology.

Dr Reginald Brothers of the DHS’ Science and Technology Directorate:

“This effort with our international research partners will help us to provide front-line emergency managers and response personnel with faster access to critical information.

“This collaborative effort will also help increase effectiveness of international humanitarian assistance and disaster response resulting in saving lives and reducing property damage.”

Victorian emergency management and DHS will also continue to explore the use of the Next Generation Incident Command System (NICS) technology to support public safety needs. Release of the open-source NICS software for the global community is anticipated later this year.

Lapsley said the open-source licensing of the software, developed by DHS Science and Technology Directorate and Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory, provides a world class platform on which Victoria is improving the way it delivers emergency information and advice.

“Victoria’s information strategy is to enable all stakeholders, including communities and businesses, to participate in providing improved intelligence and, in turn, gain better and more timely information to improve decision making for all.”

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