New sys­tem to im­prove com­mu­ni­ca­tions

South Canterbury Herald - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - AL WIL­LIAMS

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’’.

PHOTO: MYTCHALL BRANSGROVE/STUFF

South Canterbury Neigh­bour­hood Sup­port, from left, Rob Cole­man, Rosie Knop­pel, Alis­ter Paul, and Robyn Bald­win.

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