Disaster alert warning
Readynet future in doubt following withdrawals
A regional decision to opt for social media, texts and radio for civil emergency communication has put Wellington disaster information company Readynet in jeopardy.
The company collates emergency information from client organisations, including emergency contact details, numbers of people present and site plans.
The data is stored securely and is available to emergency services and civil defence teams.
Hutt City Council was its first customer, and Upper Hutt and Porirua councils signed up five years ago.
However, with the advent of a combined regional civil defence and emergency management committee, the rest of the region declined, opting instead to place more emphasis on social media.
Readynet special projects manager Matthew Nolan, a former Porirua City councillor, said a degree of uncertainty had arisen because of the Wellington move.
Bay of Plenty wanted to withdraw, and Auckland and Christchurch were re-considering.
‘‘The future of Readynet is not good because of our pilot customer, Hutt City, withdrawing. That has caused uncertainty among other users,’’ he said.
Readynet was based in Victoria St, Wellington, and employed four people until two left recently.
Mr Nolan said 96 per cent of Hutt Valley schools and all Porirua schools had signed up.
‘‘I doubt the region’s mayors are aware there is a serious decrease in school preparedness,’’ he said.
Mr Nolan said he had attempted repeatedly to make an appointment to speak to the newly elected regional management committee chairman, Nick Leggett, but had been rebuffed.
He wanted to know whether Readynet had failed or fallen short in any way.
‘‘If Readynet failed, we could understand,’’ Mr Nolan said.
Mr Leggett said Mr Nolan had approached him once last year, before he was elected chairman.
Because it was just 48 hours before an emergency management committee meeting, he declined to meet Mr Nolan, but asked for a list of bullet points, which he duly raised at the meeting.
‘‘I’m satisfied Mr Nolan had a good hearing from me even though he contacted me at such short notice,’’ he said.
When Mr Nolan asked to meet Mr Leggett again, after he had been appointed chairman, he declined to speak to him because Mr Nolan had already taken the discussion to the media.
Porirua City Council had not dumped Readynet, Mr Leggett said. Porirua’s Readynet licence fee was paid until June 2014. ‘‘They are really dumping us.’’
The regional decision to reject Readynet came down to cost.
The Readynet licence would have cost about $125,000 a year, and staff to administer it another $150,000, which did not represent the best value, or the most effective method of sharing information.
‘‘Much of what they do is able to be provided by other means at little or no cost,’’ Mr Leggett said.
Wellington emergency management group controller Bruce Pepperell said there were more ways to distribute information than there had been when Readynet was established, and a shotgun approach was required.
Some people preferred social media, some preferred texts and others relied on more traditional sources, such as radio.
‘‘ Readynet relies on people signing up,’’ he said. Many of those who had signed up had not followed through and supplied the required information.
Council take- up of Readynet had been limited, and there were gaps in its school coverage.
‘‘I’m a ratepayer and a manager of council funding. I owe it to the community to see they get value for money,’’ Mr Pepperell said.
Frustrated: Matthew Nolan has been unable to meet Nick Leggett.