Dis­as­ter alert warn­ing

Rea­dynet fu­ture in doubt fol­low­ing with­drawals

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - By JIM CHIPP

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.

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