December 2010 - February 2011
During 2010 the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) predicted that the coming wet season for Qld was likely to have more cyclones and rain. In prepearation for this, certain members of the Australian Red Cross in Qld (RCQ) started looking at ways to better involve mapping into their operations during emergencies.
RCQ created a project that involved volunteers from GISCorps and MAPS. This project produced a number of documents which outlined possible scenarios, hardware and software requirements, etc. The GISCorp volunteers also focused on mapping the capacity of RCQ Emergency Services in the pre emergency period.
During December 2010 the rain really started falling and on the 29th MAPS recieved a call for assistance.
By the evening of 29 December we had our first crew on their way to Queensland. They set up in the RCQ’s State Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) in Brisbane. Some initial work of software loading and early map production had been carried out by a GISCorps volunteer (Daniel) and our crew relieved him for some well earned rest. The bulk of the work for the 1st deployment focused on the obtaining of data and map production. In conjunction with this we needed to set up a network, NAS, etc.
The 2nd deployment took over on 2 January and consolidated the data and products and started looking at processes to automate some of the work.
The 3rd deployment (6-10 January) produced many maps including twice daily river gauge (water depth) plots and detailed plots over many of the towns affected. This included road closures and even ‘how to get there’ maps for RCQ volunteers on the move.
The 4th deployment (10-14 January) were really in the thick of it having to relocate. The EOC needed to move as it was in a suburb of Brisbane that was going to be without power and probably access. So it was a case of pack everything and relocate. They did this with minimal fuss and were operational again in a very short time.
Our 5th deployment relocated the EOC back Red Cross HQ where they are were working on generator power, but full power has since been restored.
Deployment 6 went up on Tuesday 18 January and have been maps of operational sites, river heights, navigation (road closure) maps and more.
The Red Cross Headquarters Executive Director Greg Goebel dropped in on the 19th and was extremely grateful for the plans MAPS have been producing. He mentioned that he and the Deputy Premier had been up in a helicopter using our maps and found them far better than any others they had.
Deployment 7 departed on Saturday 22 January and due to modified flight schedules they only had a limited time for handover from the crew returning home to Canberra.
Deployment 8 took over on Wednesday 26 January (what a way to celebrate Australia Day!) and are starting to look at winding up our involvement up there.
Deployment 9 took over on Sunday 30 January. It was to be our last deployment, then along came Severe Tropical Cyclone Yasi. So while we went up there with a view to pack up, this quickly changed to map preparation in readiness for the possible Red Cross deployments once Yasi hit.
Deployment 10 took over today (Thursday 3 February) and will be busy preparing maps over areas affected by Yasi as reports come in.
Our next crew (deployment 11) took over today (Monday 7 Feb) and at this stage our work will continue until about the end of next week.
The total numbers deployed at 7 February is 33 over six weeks.
We have produced many maps during these events and here is an example of some of them. Please note that the Red Cross refer to the flooding event as Ex. Tropical Cyclone Tasha as that is when they were first activated for their work. They have now moved on to TC Yasi. I hope to have some Yasi maps up soon.
Planning maps have been used by the Incident Manaagement Team (IMT) to help plan where Evacuation Centres should go, access routes and more.
NRIS is the National Registration and Inquiry System which is run by the Red Cross. It is one of just many services undertaken by them during an emergency. Information from the system is plotted to help the teams in the field.