New system to improve communications
Neighbourhood Support in South Canterbury is going digital as part of a regional effort to be better prepared.
South Canterbury Neighbourhood Support coordinator Rob Coleman said local branch members and associated organisations, including civil defence and the police, would be connected to the Gets Ready website early next week.
Coleman said it was a purposebuilt web system where residents could securely record their contact details and any special needs, resources and skills they wanted to share, to help the local community look after each other in emergency situations.
The system would also be used to share emergency warnings, including include wind, snow, fire, and flood, and other messages with members, Coleman said.
The system was developed by civil defence volunteers in Christchurch following the earthquakes, after a need was identified for communities to ‘‘manage local information around people’s needs, their unique skills and resources of value during an emergency’’.
The database was now shared across Canterbury, with Ashburton and Timaru the latest authorities to jump on board.
A set of digital tools would allow key members of Neighbourhood Support groups to send information to appropriate authorities, Coleman said.
‘‘It is maintained by residents and for residents,’’ Coleman said.
‘‘This tried and tested system has been used to great effect by the Selwyn District Council, North Canterbury Neighbourhood Support and Christchurch Neighbourhood Support for a number of years, and now Safer Ashburton too,’’ Coleman said.
‘‘This is a very exciting time for us and Neighbourhood Support throughout South Canterbury.’’
The organisation was working with civil defence teams across the region to create a ‘‘robust community network for alerts and warnings and for neighbourhood support’’.
‘‘The Gets Ready software enables us to send out text and email alerts to specific neighbourhood support groups and/or areas.
‘‘We can also provide a network to enable civil defence teams to facilitate a coordinated community response to civil disaster.
‘‘We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us to set up the network and make sure that it does what we as a community need it to do for us.’’
South Canterbury Neighbourhood Support had recently received $10,000 from the Community Trust of Mid & South Canterbury towards ongoing operational costs.
‘‘This means that we can hold workshops and train authorised and vetted volunteer personnel to use the South Canterbury Gets Ready system.’’
Community Trust backing also means that we can promote South Canterbury Gets Ready to the many communities spread throughout our region from Temuka to Twizel, Waimate to Woodbury and all points in between.
‘‘It means we can hold community workshops to get more people to sign up and become part of the ever-growing community network of neighbours helping neighbours to create safer, more caring neighbourhoods.’’
South Canterbury Neighbourhood Support chairman Gary Foster said the system would ‘‘ enable people to communicate directly and effortlessly, using targeted communication in time of need’’.
South Canterbury Neighbourhood Support, from left, Rob Coleman, Rosie Knoppel, Alister Paul, and Robyn Baldwin.