IF A major weather event is headed for your area, you might go online to search for the information you need: What’s happening? Where and when will it strike? How severe will it be? What resources are available to help?
The Bureau of Meteorology, ABC and local council websites endeavour to provide up- to- date information at times like these, but when whole states are flooding, the system understandably fails.
Google is stepping up to the plate with a safety response function utilising Google Maps.
‘‘ The Google Crisis Response team works on providing critical emergency information during crises,’’ the website says.
‘‘ Our goal is to surface emergency information through the online tools you use every day, when that information is relevant and useful.
‘‘ Google Public Alerts is Google’s new platform for disseminating emergency messages such as evacuation notices for hurricanes and everyday alerts such as storm warnings.
‘‘ We’re starting by showing relevant weather, public safety and earthquake alerts from US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Weather Service and the US Geological Survey.’’
As it’s still in beta stage, Google Crisis Response may not be very useful locally for the time being. Locally, Emergency Alert enables state and territory authorities to issue voice messages to landlines, and text messages to mobile telephones, linked to properties in an area identified as being at risk.
And the Attorney- General has launched an Australian Government smartphone app that aims to arm Australians with the latest official disaster information.
The Disaster watch phone app ( for Android and iphone) contains the latest public information about disaster events via direct feeds from a range of authoritative sources in the states and territories and nationally. • More information on the Disaster Watch website: em.gov.au/ Resources/ Pages/ Disaster watch phone App. aspx
Bringing services together is the Australian multi- government website Emergency Alert.
Be Warned. Be Informed, which provides information on the national emergency alert system and offers FAQS and links to state and territory emergency service authorities. Visit emergencyalert.gov.au