$3.6 million project to connect communities during disasters
In the face of storms, floods and fires, communities will be able to stay better connected to help them remain safe, with the NSW Telco Authority (NSWTA) awarded $1.8 million by the Commonwealth Government’s Disaster Ready Fund to deliver a $3.6 million project.
Australia has experienced significant fire and flood disasters in recent years and the matched funding will support two initiatives as part of the project which is aimed at improving digital connectivity for impacted communities during and after natural disasters.
The first is the design and delivery of temporary connectivity ‘kits’ which can be quickly deployed during natural disasters. Based on the situation and scale of the disaster the kits could include technology such as battery and solar panels, wi-fi extenders and Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite connection.
The connectivity kits will bring together resilient, transportable and flexible digital connectivity solutions to help communities during critical times or where existing telecommunications infrastructure is impacted.
The kits will be designed so they can be deployed at speed into affected communities, leveraging existing emergency management arrangements and restoring connectivity in a crisis.
The second will establish a more comprehensive knowledge base on digital connectivity gaps and what communities need in a disaster.
This research will be used by government agencies when making investment decisions on connectivity solutions to make communities even safer and more resilient in the future.
These initiatives will help address the objectives of the 2022 NSW Flood Inquiry and 2020 NSW Bushfire Inquiry by supporting disaster resiliency and the community when they most need it.
Scoping for the research project has already commenced and the first connectivity kits are expected to be designed within the first year.
Minister for Customer Service and Digital, Jihad Dib said:
“Australia is no stranger to unprecedented fire and flood disasters, and it is vital our emergency services can stay connected and keep our communities protected when they need it the most.”
“It is incredibly difficult for impacted communities and our emergency services once telecommunications are down, these connectivity kits will bring communities back online when they lose essential communication channels.”
“Natural disasters can have a devastating effect on communities and our vital infrastructure, this is just one way we can ensure communities remain connected when the worst occurs.”
“The NSW Government is committed to narrowing the digital divide for customers in NSW, especially in regional communities where network coverage is a known challenge.”
“These initiatives are a step towards bridging that gap and better supporting people when they need it most.”