Peter Etherington, manager of Fire & Emergency Services for Tasmania Fire and Emergency Services, had not yet started to turn in a list of places for his personal account on Fire Weather Information website when he saw the ominous message: Tasmanian bushfires in the Supervisory Control Room.
He walked to the kitchen, turned on the kettle and quickly set out the cup of coffee. Etherington had made the same trip numerous times for nearly two decades, but this time he had to rush up a hundred metres and reach a door beyond the door of the control room.
The three monitor screens in front of Etherington spanned continents as well as generations. They were all shown in native 3D from inside a virtual control room that didn’t yet exist.
In the background of each monitor was a satellite photograph of an Australian landscape, which spoke volumes for the work of Fire & Emergency Services in terms of risk assessment, containment, and recovery. The Tasmanian bushfires that burned in January had destroyed nearly 2,000 homes and thousands of hectares of bushland.
Those fires had little memory of their origin, barely left footprints on the landscape, and yet the scale of their destruction could be seen in the first flight detail and the first images of the damage.
As the spokesperson, Etherington was not above taking command of an incident in real time. However, rather than calling in the total command of the incident, Fire & Emergency Services decided to use a tool called Worldview: it would eventually be used to inspect all the data that was in the Micro Document Processor (MDP) in the control room at the same time.
This MDP, built by Redskum and added to the Tasmanian fire operations system at the beginning of 2018, was once used by the Fire & Emergency Services across the country to dispatch and monitor resources in difficult situations.
Tasmanian Fire and Emergency Services wanted to be in a position to track all of the information coming in from every radio and radio channel at one time. The machine translation of that information, the interaction between all of the fire, rescue, and police personnel and between the fire, rescue, and police personnel at that time was crucial to the tool’s potential.
TAS Fire and Emergency Services are not yet alone in this exciting new way of working. West Australian Fire & Emergency Services is also planning to use Worldview in Victoria and South Australia.