Aurecon helps South African municipalities deliver a fast, coordinated response to disasters

Fire Prevention Day, which is celebrated on 9 October, exists both to raise awareness of risks and fire practices practices that can help prevent potential disasters. Associate, Asset Management, Sarel Jansen van Rensburg at engineering, design and advisory company Aurecon says South Africa has some of the best Disaster Management legislation in the world, yet thousands of people in the country still do not receive any or very little disaster relief or mitigation, and in many cases are still suffering from the consequences of a disaster.

“There is a misconception that the public and private sector has sufficient funding and resources available for disaster management, which contributes to the challenges of this complex issue. Often, disaster management is merely an administrative coordination function within an organisation and this function often doesn’t have dedicated resources to manage a situation if a crisis strikes,” says Jansen van Rensburg.

Disaster management is everyone’s job

He says the intention of any legislation about disaster management is twofold: to understand an organisation’s risk and to implement measures for reducing the risk and impact of a disaster together with helping coordinate a response and relief effort. In support of this, Aurecon has rolled out a web-based disaster management system that assists municipalities in establishing a coordinated body during major incidents. The collaboration platform supports all disaster management activities through the integration of mobile technology, spatial platform, real-time bulk communication, and automated reporting.

Aurecon’s Intelligent Incident Management Portal (IIMP), which can be accessed on any device with an internet connection, can be rolled out on local, district/metro, provincial or national levels and it can integrate as many agencies, such as the fire department, water department, and emergency services, as needed.

“In using the IIMP, our clients benefit from a unified approach to incident management even though each department has different responsibilities and business objectives. With this system, information sharing becomes seamless and data exchange is standardised, eliminating any political boundaries that may be conflictive,” Jansen van Rensburg explains.

Cutting down the disaster reporting response time with real-time information sharing

In the past, municipalities generally required about two weeks to provide a comprehensive report on the damages of a major incident. The IIMP’s mobile capturing capabilities and live reporting tool means that disaster responders can capture information on cell phones and tablets. This automatically generates information on the impact of a disaster and produces supporting information to request assistance and relief. Not only does this lead to a faster response from agencies, but the data quality and accuracy of the information is improved.

The IIMP has been implemented by many provincial districts. Currently, the company’s most active users are the Capricorn district in Polokwane and all of the districts/metros in the Eastern Cape Province, including the Chris Hani District Municipality, which won the VUNA Award for performance excellence in the category: The Best District Municipality with Disaster Management Systems at the South African Local Government Awards (SALGA) 2014.

Aurecon has a long history of providing an advisory service, as well as software for incident management in the fire, municipal emergency and disaster management services space. What sets its solution apart is the ease of on-boarding clients to the system, automated and triggered notifications that the system sends to relevant stakeholders, call-taking and dispatching solutions, bulk early warning components to help better prepare communities in the event of an incident, as well as the world-class fire reporting capability of the tool.

With the system and infrastructure in place, Aurecon can quickly add new instances and clients, their users as well as agencies to its hosted environment. No new hardware or software installations are required to use the IIMP.

“The disaster management systems of the past were expensive and required ongoing licence renewals and access to dedicated servers. With our web-based system, you only need an internet connection and a web browser to access the IIMP. The business intelligence that we can provide municipalities will continue to contribute to more future-ready communities in South Africa,” says Jansen van Rensburg.

Fire prevention module

Over the past three years, Aurecon has worked very closely with some of its clients to improve the fire prevention modules of the IIMP.

“We believe that we can offer one of the country’s best lightweight, streamlined systems to digitise your fire prevention operations and reporting. This includes mobile capturing, a workflow for an approval process and reporting for pre-fire plans, fire incident reports, fire safety inspection and building plan assessment. Prevention is more efficient, safer and less costly than cure, which is why we have focused on improving the support for fire prevention measures,” concludes Jansen van Rensburg.

About the Author

Sarel Jansen Van Rensburg is an Associate for Asset Management in Aurecon. He is based in Gauteng, South Africa.


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