Supporting community connectivity in times of disaster
In the event of an emergency, the ability to communicate can be key to survival.
And, in its aftermath, being able to do those things we generally take for granted – like staying in touch with loved ones, accessing online services, and working or studying remotely – can help communities get back on their feet.
That’s why, to help boost the support offered to communities and emergency services personnel during times of disaster, we’re rolling out a range of important connectivity support measures including nbn™ Disaster Satellite Services, additional Road Muster Trucks, and more Portable Satellite Kits.
nbn™ Disaster Satellite Services
Designed as a back-up communications connection, nbn™ Disaster Satellite Services can be switched to ‘disaster mode’ during an emergency event to provide free satellite broadband functionality, including Wi-Fi, for public use.
Set to be installed at designated emergency management sites, like fire depots, and evacuation centres around Australia, nbn™ Disaster Satellite Services will help support communities during emergency events and the recovery process.
The service can provide additional support for disaster-affected communities where terrestrial communications networks are temporarily impacted due to loss of power, or damage to communications infrastructure.
These installations follow the 2019/20 bushfire crisis when nbn was able to help provide emergency connectivity to more than 5,000 residents, business owners and support staff across New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.
“Last summer, we worked with service providers to install temporary emergency satellite infrastructure to more than 30 evacuation centres and 10 emergency response centres,” says Gavin Williams, Chief Development Officer, Regional and Remote at nbn.
“By providing free satellite Wi-Fi services and mobile device charging facilities during the emergency, we were able to help keep families and loved ones connected, and provide vital communication services into areas that otherwise might not have had them.”
Now, as part of the Australian Government’s Strengthening Telecommunications Against Natural Disasters (STAND) package, we’re installing nbn™ Disaster Satellite Services at locations across the country.
Supporting communities in times of need
Australian Capital Territory
Namadgi National Park Visitor Centre
Tidbinbilla National Park Visitors Centre
Hall Rural Fire Service (RFS) Base
Guises Creek RFS Base
Southern Districts RFS Base
Tidbinbilla RFS Base
Rivers RFS Base
ESA Training Centre
Murrumbidgee Parks & Conservation Service Depot
Bendora Dam Parks & Conservation Service Depot
Glendale Parks & Conservation Service Depot
Gudgenby Homestead Parks & Conservation Service Depot
ESA Communications Centre, Hume
Lilydale Memorial Hall
Wynyard Sports Centre
Swansea Town Hall
Mathinna Recreation Ground
Miena Community Hall
Huon Valley PCYC Building
Elma Fagan Community Centre Waratah
Town Hall – Currie
Sorell Memorial Hall
Sheffield Kentish Town Hall
Redpa Recreation Centre
Queenstown Sports Stadium
Nubeena Recreational Ground
Latrobe & District Youth Centre
Kangaroo Island Group Base
Tatiara Group Base
Gambier Group Base
Mallee Group Control Centre
Lancelin Sports Club
Walpole Community Hall
Margaret River Cultural Centre
Nannup Rec Centre
Peaceful Bay Volunteer Marine Centre
Bremer Bay Sports Club
Jerramungup Sports Ground
Ravensthorpe Entertainment Centre
Denmark Rec Centre
Leeman Sports Oval
Jurien Bay Football Club
Coral Bay DFES building
Cervantes Rec Centre
Derby Shire Office
Broome Rec Centre
Broome DFES building
Exmouth Evac Centre
Onslow Multi-Purpose Centre
Port Hedland JD Hardie Centre
Wandering Shire Admin Office
Bairnsdale City Oval
Cann River Rec Res
Paynesville Rec Res
Mallacoota Main Hall
Omeo Rec Res
Buchan Rec Res
Lakes Entrance Mechanics Hall
Cudgewa Temporary Community Support Hub
Licola Wilderness Village
Towong Temporary Community Support Hub
Tintaldra Temporary Community Support Hub
Myrtleford Sports Stadium
Orbost Cricket Club Oval
Myrtleford Senior Citizens Centre
Ovens DELWP Office
Mitta Valley ERC
Lucyvale/Berringama Temporary Community Support Hub
Walwa Temporary Community Support Hub
Nariel Valley Temporary Community Support Hub
Biggara Temporary Community Support Hub
Myrtleford Sports Stadium
Dargo Bush Nursing Centre
Dinner Plain Community Centre
Pioneer Park Pavilion (Bright)
Harrietville Community Hall
Mt Beauty Community Centre
Mt Beauty Swimming Pool & Sports Centre
Dederang Memorial Hall
Biloela Civic Centre
Collinsville Community Centre
Gloucester Sport and Recreation Building
Mackay Entertainment and Convention Centre
Bob Wood Hall
Kianga Hall Moura
Robert Schwarten Pavilion
Taroom Town Hall
Cooktown Event Centre
Bundaberg Multiplex Sport and Convention Centre
Bundaberg Recreational Precinct
Ingham Showgrounds Pavilion
Central Highlands Emergency Evacuation Centre, Emerald
Nominated by Federal, state and territory governments, and relevant emergency services agencies, further locations will be added in 2021.
nbn will be working closely with service providers to install and activate the services so they are ready should communities need them.
“While, of course, we hope never to see a repeat of last summer’s events, we welcome the opportunity to further increase our capabilities to support retail service providers, emergency services personnel and the communities impacted by these devastating events,” says Gavin.
Have connectivity, will travel
To further support communities during emergency events and loss of connectivity, our fleet of portable satellite services is also getting a boost.
Five new Road Muster Trucks – our nbn™ Sky Muster™ satellite-equipped vehicles – are hitting the road to provide valuable Wi-Fi connectivity to emergency workers and evacuated local residents.
Able to be rapidly mobilised to support communities when they are most in need, the new Road Muster Trucks will be based across the country in Asquith (NSW), Bentley (WA), Green Fields (SA), Nunawading (VIC) and Townsville (QLD).
Working with emergency services, we’ll deploy our Road Muster Trucks where they are needed most and when it’s safe to do so.
Twelve additional Portable Satellite Kits have also been added to nbn’s emergency arsenal.
Transportable in protective Pelican cases, these satellite-equipped kits can be deployed to areas where no other communications services are available to provide valuable support to emergency services in disaster situations.
“The devastation of last summer’s bushfire emergency reinforced the importance of connectivity in disaster situations,” says Gavin.
“Our priority is to support communities and emergency services with connectivity when they need it most.”
Funding the emergency measures
To help support communities by increasing the number of temporary emergency network services available during times of disaster, $8.7 million in grants were provided to nbn by the Australian Government’s Strengthening Telecommunications Against Natural Disasters (STAND) package.
A $7 million grant will cover the installation and use of nbn™ Disaster Satellite Services at rural and country emergency management sites, and designated evacuation centres across the country.
STAND also provided a $1.7 million grant for nbn to purchase the five additional Road Muster Trucks and 12 additional Portable Satellite Kits.
Importantly, there is no cost to communities for these services.