By Juerg von Kaenel
Only with sustained investment in innovation can countries improve the most fundamental quality-of-life indicators for their citizens. For complex and vital disciplines like disaster management, this requires comprehensive collaboration across community, government, industry and academia and on a global scale. By focusing on common social goals – such as reducing and mitigating the impact of natural and man-made disasters – best practices and collective technical knowledge can be used to help improve community resilience and potentially save lives.
The newly-announced teaming of IBM, the University of Melbourne, and the National ICT Australia (NICTA) research centre, to develop and implement the Australia Disaster Management Platform (ADMP) will enable collaboration between innovators in the critical fields of disaster planning, response and recovery. The ADMP promises to remove some of the major historical obstacles to innovation in this increasingly critical field.
Today’s decision support systems typically lack interoperability or common communications standards. So when disaster strikes, each response team or recovery unit ends up acting as an isolated silo, unable to access potentially relevant data held by their counterparts. To improve speed and efficacy, innovators must first overcome these significant inhibitors to change.
The ADMP will use an OpenStack-based cloud platform to provide a “system of systems” approach, which will allow a wide spectrum of information streams to come together into a simulation and optimisation environment. It will provide predictions on outcomes to be brought together and put into the context of the decision-makers for them to garner information and take informed action during an emergency. With the deployment of the ADMP, emergency services personnel will gain access to integrated situational intelligence that applies real-time analytics to all geospatial and temporal information available from the affected area. Doing so will make for faster, evidence-based, decisions.
In the initial stages, a pilot program will use buildings and infrastructural Big Data in selected urbanMelbourneareas to develop proofs-of-concept that are focussed on delivering decision support that facilitates speedy and efficient evacuation during emergency situations.
To develop the ADMP, IBM, the Universityof Melbourneand NICTA have committed to pooling our collective and unparalleled experience in creating and deploying such a platform, bringing to bear Big Data and analytics capabilities within a highly responsive technical solution. For IBM, not only do we bring these capabilities, but we also bring world-leading experience in, among other areas, data optimisation and architectural expertise through our Smarter Cities deployments throughout the world.
By pooling technical and strategic resources, all three organisations aim to not only improve the baseline quality of disaster response and recovery, but also pave the way for future technological and practical innovations in the area. Collaboration between community, government, industry and academia often has its challenges, but it is an essential ingredient to fostering innovations that are successful in delivering what economists call “the common good” to nations as a whole.