$3.6m project to connect NSW communities during disasters

Tuesday, 11 July, 2023

$3.6m project to connect NSW communities during disasters

The NSW Telco Authority has been awarded $1.8 million from the Australian Government’s Disaster Ready Fund to deliver a $3.6 million project to keep communities better connected in the face of storms, floods and fires. The matched funding will support two initiatives aimed at improving digital connectivity for impacted communities during and after natural disasters.

The first is the design and delivery of temporary connectivity ‘kits’ which can be quickly deployed during natural disasters. Based on the situation and scale of the disaster, the kits could include technology such as batteries and solar panels, Wi-Fi extenders and low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellite connection.

The connectivity kits will bring together resilient, transportable and flexible digital connectivity solutions to help communities during critical times or where existing telecommunications infrastructure is impacted. They will be designed so they can be deployed at speed into affected communities, leveraging existing emergency management arrangements and restoring connectivity in a crisis.

The second initiative will establish a more comprehensive knowledge base on digital connectivity gaps and what communities need in a disaster. This research will be used by government agencies when making investment decisions on connectivity solutions to make communities even safer and more resilient in the future.

These initiatives are set to help address the objectives of the 2022 NSW Flood Inquiry and 2020 NSW Bushfire Inquiry by supporting disaster resiliency and the community when they most need it. Scoping for the research project has already commenced and the first connectivity kits are expected to be designed within the first year.

“Australia is no stranger to unprecedented fire and flood disasters, and it is vital our emergency services can stay connected and keep our communities protected when they need it the most,” said Jihad Dib, NSW Minister for Customer Service and Digital.

“It is incredibly difficult for impacted communities and our emergency services once telecommunications are down; these connectivity kits will bring communities back online when they lose essential communication channels.

“Natural disasters can have a devastating effect on communities and our vital infrastructure. This is just one way we can ensure communities remain connected when the worst occurs.”

Image credit: iStock.com/davidf

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