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SMC: Emergency Mobile Alert Test

Emergency Mobile Alert Test

It was a busy week for hazards experts with testing of emergency mobile alerts, warnings about a future Hikurangi subduction zone rupture and lessons in volcano monitoring from Mt Agung.

The Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management sent out a nationwide test of their new Emergency Mobile Alert on Sundayevening at staggered times between 6pm and 7pm.

Civil Defence director Sarah Stuart-Black told Radio NZ: “we know that the message was successfully broadcast right across the North and South Island... but there was some variability in the way handsets received the messages.”

Only around 30 per cent of mobile phones were capable of receiving the alert, which has led experts to caution against placing too much reliance on the system.

Massey University disaster mental health psychologist Sarb Johal told the SMC:

"It will be interesting to track user behaviour to see how these alerts are received and influence emergency response and preparation, as well as how this information is checked (against other information sources, including social, online and real-life), and how this is used in combination with other traditional channels that have higher rates of penetration e.g. radio.”

Civil Defence reiterated its advice that if you feel a long and strong earthquake, don’t wait for an alert before you start moving. They have been asking for public feedback on the test.

The SMC gathered expert reaction to the alert test.


Quoted: New Zealand Doctor
“We need to ensure that taxpayers’ money is only used to pay for evidence-based treatments - it's not just acupuncture that's a problem. The government needs to review its funding of acupuncture, and stop wasting money.”
Daniel Ryan, Society for Science Based Healthcare

Protecting the Ross Sea
Sweeping protections for Antarctica's Ross Sea came into effect today.
After five years of debate, the marine protected area (MPA) was agreed in 2016 after a joint proposal by New Zealand and the United States was unanimously voted in by the 25 members of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources.
Over 1.5 million square kilometres of the Southern Ocean will be included in a "no-take" zone covering minerals and marine life, forming one of the world's largest marine sanctuaries.
The Ross Sea is one of the most pristine ecosystems worldwide and one of the few that "retains all of its top predators, including whales, seals, and large predatory sh", according to Dr Regina Eisert from Gateway Antarctica at the University of Canterbury.

The MPA will also protect the main nurseries of the Antarctic toothfish so that researchers can determine the sustainability of current fishing activity in the area, although limited fishing will be allowed.

As Dr Eisert notes "toothfish have been fished commercially in the Ross Sea since 1997, and New Zealand researchers and fishing companies actively contribute to the sustainable management of the fishery through CCAMLR."

But Antarctica's not all blue ocean and icebergs, Prof Mary Sewell from the University of Auckland told the SMC, "it is not well known that within the MPA there are several islands and areas of coastal habitat" which are home to seaweeds, sponges and starfish.
The SMC gathered expert reaction on the Ross Sea protection.

Background to New Zealand's role and a history of the Ross Sea can be found on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade website.

Policy news & developments

Regional Rail: Report commissioned by NZTA and KiwiRail in 2016 suggests boosting the rail network can reduce costs, congestions and greenhouse emissions.

Waikato DHB resignation: Beleaguered Waikato District Health Board chair Bob Simcock resigned on Tuesday afternoon after CEO controversy.

Healthier commute: Report suggests that supporting more people to walk and cycle for transport could have significant public health benefits.

Ross Sea protection: Foreign Minister welcomes Ross Sea Marine Protected Area in the Southern Ocean.

Healthy homes: New act hopes to improve rental housing quality by setting standards for heating, insulation, ventilation, draught stopping, drainage and moisture.

Parental leave: The Bill extending paid parental leave to 26 weeks by 2020 passed its third reading.


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