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Communities get emergency WiFi
Date of Issue: 
September 2, 2022

People living in some disaster-prone locations in our shire are now able to access more reliable communication technology during emergencies.

Partnering with East Gippsland Shire and communities, NBN installed disaster satellite services to supply a NBN connection that can be utilised during emergencies.

This connection bridges an important gap where land-based communications networks become unavailable due to power outages or damage to infrastructure.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority found most network outages during the 2019-20 bushfires were caused by power outages.

The $7 million project was funded by phase two of the Commonwealth Government’s Strengthening Telecommunications Against Natural Disasters (STAND) program.

Mayor Cr Mark Reeves said Council worked closely with remote communities and connected more than 40 sites across the shire.

“The new infrastructure has already been used. Bemm River lost power, traditional telecommunications services, and road access due to storms and flooding. Bemm River residents switched on the satellite unit and were able to hold online meetings with emergency services and Council to request medical attention and emergency relief to affected people,” Cr Reeves said.

The back-up satellite technology also provides free WiFi, which means people are able to contact family and friends throughout an incident. The infrastructure upgrades may eventually be supported by generators or electric battery storage units in some communities, which allows people to charge mobile phones and other devices during incidences of extended power outages.

STAND technology has been installed in 46 East Gippsland Shire communities.

Cr Reeves said these solutions deliver reliable connectivity during an emergency that enables emergency agencies to:

  • communicate with each other,
  • share information, and
  • stay up-to-date with the latest weather conditions and modelling.

They are also important pieces in a vital digital lifeline for communities in their time of need.

For more information on the STAND system please contact Council’s emergency management team.

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