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Warning System A Disaster In The Making

John Carter MP
National Party Civil Defence Spokesman

10 January 2007

Warning System A Disaster In The Making

New Zealand’s civil defence warning system is a mess, and the project to upgrade it is floundering, says National’s Civil Defence spokesperson John Carter.

“Two years after the Boxing Day Tsunami, and two years since a review of the National Civil Defence Management Warning System was started, the system remains a shambles.”

In response to parliamentary questions, Civil Defence Minister Rick Barker revealed the project has no milestones, no final budget and no final date for completion.

A Department of Internal Affairs document obtained by Mr Carter also highlights the project’s inefficiencies.

“In 2005 the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management sent out an electronic document to identify companies capable of providing a better alert and warning system.

“Embarrassingly, the document included track changes from an earlier draft for everyone to see. What it reveals is horrifying.”

It states:

• The current system is inefficient and may be prone to failure

• Better ways of disseminating messages are possible

• The current warning system does not have guaranteed remote access at all times, and is slow in any case

• Current work-around procedures that have been adopted as a result will not always be possible or practical

“The document also shows that an upgrade was expected in 2006 – but here we are in 2007, and there’s no sign of any progress.

“Holidaymakers relaxing on the beach would be horrified to know that may have no warning in the event of a Tsunami, or if they do, it may come too late.”

Parliamenty Questions & Annotated Department of Internal Affairs Document

Question: Does his Ministry have a project to implement a system capable of providing unified messaging options for the purpose of the dissemination of alerts/warnings by the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management (MCDEM); if so, when did this project commence?

Answer Text: I refer the member to my answer to question 16228 for the answer to the first part of this question. I am advised that the project represents the final stage of a review of the National Civil Defence Emergency Management Warning System that started in 2004.

Question: Does his Ministry have a project to implement a system capable of providing unified messaging options for the purpose of the dissemination of alerts/warnings by the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management (MCDEM); if so, who is the vendor of the system?

Answer Text: I refer the member to my answer to question 16228 for the answer to the first part of this question. I am advised that the vendor or vendors of this system have not yet been chosen.

Question: Does his Ministry have a project to implement a system capable of providing unified messaging options for the purpose of the dissemination of alerts/warnings by the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management (MCDEM); if so, what are the project milestones?

Answer Text: I refer the member to my answer to question 16228 for the answer to the first part of this question. I am advised that final project milestones have not yet been determined.

Question: Does his Ministry have a project to implement a system capable of providing unified messaging options for the purpose of the dissemination of alerts/warnings by MCDEM (Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management); if so, when will this system be fully operational?

Answer Text: I refer the member to my answer to question 16228 for the answer to the first part of this question. I am advised that a final date for completing the project has not yet been determined.

ENDS

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