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Anne Rahilly
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The University of Melbourne, IBM (NYSE: IBM) and  NICTA today jointly announced that they are collaborating to develop the Australia Disaster Management Platform (ADMP), a next generation open standards-based IT platform aimed at  improving disaster management, protecting communities and potentially saving lives.

Over the past decade alone, the world has experienced a deluge of natural and man-made disasters impacting millions and costing trillions of dollars in property and infrastructure damage.  From floods to bushfires to hurricanes to droughts to nuclear reactor meltdowns and chemical spills– disaster events were widespread and severe. Many of the decision support tools used by emergency services are not interoperable thereby fuelling a siloed, uncoordinated and less effective approach to disaster management.

In response, researchers from the Melbourne School of Engineering at the University of Melbourne, IBM and NICTA will develop and implement an innovative, integrated, open standards-based disaster management platform designed to  gather, integrate and analyse vast amounts of geo-spatial and infrastructure information from multiple data sets to create real-time practical information streams on disaster events.  As well as enabling real-time situational awareness, the information streams will be used to develop simulation and optimisation models within available and changing constraints.

The Platform will facilitate informed decision-making by communicating the information, via various channels and at appropriate levels of detail, to the wide spectrum of people involved in making emergency decisions - from the central coordinating agencies that are charged with directing activities, to on-ground emergency services personnel, through to the local community.

The ADMP will be developed and implemented, in close collaboration with emergency services, over the next few years and will build on existing roadmaps such as the Victorian Emergency  Management Reform - Whitepaper, Dec 2012.
"The size, timeliness and significance of the objective behind the Australia Disaster Management Platform demands true global collaboration,” said Professor Glyn Davis, Vice Chancellor of the University of Melbourne.  “To develop this important Platform, the University commits to bringing our expertise, capabilities and resources as a university, together with those of our two great partners, IBM Research - Australia and the NICTA VRL optimisation research group."
 

In the initial stages, the researchers will undertake a pilot using the buildings and related information of selected urban Melbourne areas.  The researchers will develop proofs of concept by studying how to provide decision-support that facilitates speedy and efficient evacuation during emergency situations.

“IBM is committed to bringing our expertise and experience, along with those of the University of Melbourne and NICTA, to this significant undertaking which represents a smarter approach to disaster management,” said Glenn Wightwick, Director, IBM Research - Australia.     

"Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) are critical in preparing for, responding to, and recovering from disasters,” said NICTA Chief Executive Officer, Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte.  “NICTA, Australia's national centre of excellence in ICT, will bring world-class expertise in areas such as data management, optimisation and decision support to meet the challenge of disaster management for the nation."

For more information on ADMP, please visit www.admp.org.au
For more information on IBM, please visit www.ibm.com
For more information on University of Melbourne, please visit www.unimelb.edu.au
For more information on NICTA, please visit www.nicta.com.au.