Monday, September 26, 2011

Are Australia's emergency services ready to engage with social media? BushfireConnect unsuccessful in government grant bid

It's come to my attention that the BushfireConnect team were unsuccessful in securing a small grant under the National Disaster Resilience Grant Scheme to support their work in providing emergency support during Australia's bushfire season.

I've been told that the reason the grant was rejected was that, "as the VIC Emergency Services do not yet have a Social Media Policy, they did not 'feel comfortable with' being seen to 'endorse' Emergency Management Social Media projects by providing them with grants."

All three social media projects vying for a grant were rejected.

Reportedly, they are still working to get their heads around the use of social media in emergency management.

I wonder how many other social media initiatives across Australia have been knocked back due to government officials (at any level) not yet having their heads around the area as yet.

BushfireConnect was established in May 2010 and has been run by volunteers with no formal support from government.

They are currently seeking volunteers to help manage the service once the official bushfire season starts on 1 October.

As they said about the grant result,
We could probably spend hours chewing the fat on the why and the how, but this is the landscape we're all working in. In the mean time, the fire season is starting as early as September this year, so we have stuff to do :) Hopefully we can get sufficient traction this season so that we cannot be ignored in the future.
To learn more, watch the video below of Maurits van der Vlugt, one of the founders, speaking about Bushfire Connect and emergency management assisted by social media at Ignite Sydney 6.

Below this are Maurits's slides from an earlier conference (which seem to be very similar to those used for Ignite).


  1. Great post, I admire the writing style :) A little off topic here but what theme are you using? Looks pretty cool.
    CCTV Karachi

  2. Whilst I can see your point, we must remember that Bushfire Connect is not actually associated with the relevant emergency services in each state. With RSS, GeoRSS, iPhone and Android apps popping up for bushfires, earthquakes and other emergencies, what is the real benefit of having another provider? Perhaps a strategic outlook needs to be given to this whereby a single authoratative source is secured, thereby greatly increasing the accuracy and response of this type of information. Could Bushfire Connect be that source?