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21st century fire fighting

Can content delivered through an app save lives this bushfire season?

With Hurricane Sandy currently occupying the world’s attention as it dances destructively across the United States, it is easy to overlook that, here in Australia, we are entering the bushfire danger season.

Authorities have already been experimenting with using social media and online content to keep people informed if/when natural disasters strike (with, it has to be said, varying degrees of success). But the new FireReady app from the Victoria Country Fire Authority’s is the most advanced attempt to turn technology into a fire-fighting, lifesaving tool yet.

Already downloaded by 70,000 users, it provides notifications of fire dangers and lets users photograph bushfire activity (with GPS coordinates and time stamp) and submit it to authorities. It’s a kind of crowd-sourcing (or ‘community intelligence gathering’ as the CFA’s digital media manager, Martin Anderson, puts it) that, hopefully, prevents the sort of ‘information vacuum’ that cost lives during Black Saturday in 2009 occurring.

Granted, this crucial service is not presented in as entertaining away as Canada’s ‘zombie preparedness week‘, but if it does what it’s meant to, that’s all that matters.

 

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