A world first Community Emergency Response Model used to predict the behaviour of bushfire-stricken communities in Victoria and South Australia has now been expanded to improve management of disasters such as bushfires, floods and storms in New South Wales, Western Australia and Tasmania.
Known as CERM, the model helps authorities understand if or when people are likely to evacuate a threatened area, what kind of shelter people will seek out, and how to plan warnings and traffic routes to ensure the safe evacuation of the community.
“Our communities and emergency managers prepare for the disaster they hope never comes,” says said Dr Don Perugini, CEO of ISD Analytics. “People are allowed to stay to defend their properties but in high risk communities this can result in loss of life. CERM helps address the balance between saving properties and saving lives.”
CERM was originally developed by ISD Analytics in collaboration with Emergency Management Victoria to predict accurately how communities respond to disasters in Victoria and South Australia. With support from AFAC, the peak body for emergency services, CERM will now be used to predict community behavioral response to bushfires in New South Wales, Western Australia and Tasmania.
The project involves a range of organisations nationally, including Emergency Management Victoria, NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS), WA Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES), Tasmania Fire Service (TFS), ISD Analytics and Galbraith Co.
"CERM will enable emergency services to predict the response of communities to actual or hypothetical disasters, resulting in better decision-making for warnings, traffic management, shelter strategies, and community safety planning,," Dr Perugini says.
"CERM has already been used to test hypothetical scenarios for high risk communities in Victoria,, informing both strategy and policy."
CERM uses theories of rationality and risk-based cognitive models derived from established principles about how people process and react to potentially life-threatening situations. CERM takes into account Census data, observational and administrative data, survey data, expert knowledge, previous research and recent advances in computer and simulation technology.
CERM simulates the decision making process of each individual, or collection of individuals such as a family unit, in a community as they respond to the threatening situation, such as a bushfire. CERM reports on the proportion of the population that stay, leave or are uncommitted to a response, as well as the proportion of the community who will seek refuge in shelters, halls, or open areas such as sports ovals and dams.
"The objective of this recent project is to enhance CERM so it can be applied to communities across Australia, as well as to investigate wider use of the tool to support and inform the work conducted by emergency services," said Dr Drew Mellor from ISD Analytics.
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