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EMPA emergency communications winners announced

21 August 2018

This year’s Emergency Media and Public Affairs (EMPA) conference announced the winners of its emergency communications awards at an event last night at Te Papa in Wellington.

Twelve finalists were considered across four categories: media, research, readiness and resilience and response and recovery.

“We want to acknowledge and celebrate the excellent work that’s being done in our sector, by practitioners, researchers and the media,” EMPA board chair Michele Poole said.

“The quality of entries was universally high, which made it demanding to judge. As judges we looked not just for good practice – that’s a given – we were also looking at the scope of the activity, at the use of resources, we looked for innovation and we considered the effect that the finalists’ work had on the affected community.”

Winners, commendations and runners up

Research category

Sally Potter, GNS Science

Sally led a research project using an evidence-based approach to writing short messages for the New Zealand public. It included reviewing international research on how short warnings influence behaviour, and then tested the findings in New Zealand. Her research into short messages is now being implemented by MCDEM in the new emergency mobile alerting system, to provide effective warnings of life-threatening emergencies.

The other Research finalist was X-Craft for their project ‘Rescue Robotics’, which provides aerial intelligence gathering during emergency responses using unmanned aircraft and wireless technology.

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In the Readiness and Resilience category four finalists showcased very different ways in which our sector is working to better prepare our communities to understand natural hazards and risks, and cope with emergencies. The judges looked for looked for innovation and considered the outcomes and the benefits of the activity - did it achieve its intended results.

The joint winners were Bay of Plenty CDEM Group for their ‘Youth Jam’ – engaging youth in emergency preparedness and Emergency Management Southland for ‘More than Just a Plan, Stan’ – turning community response planning on its head by putting the community at the centre of each plan, rather than imposing a top-down approach.

Project AF8 received a commendation for its video series raising awareness of the hazards posed by the Alpine Fault and launched the consultation on the draft SAFER Framework, which will guide the coordinated response to a magnitude 8 rupture along the length of the South Island.

The other Readiness and Resilience finalist was Dr Janine Krippner, a New Zealand scientist who established the ‘Twitter Volcano Cup’ competition to find the world’s top volcano.

The award for Excellence in Media was open to journalists who had reported on emergency events or recovery from emergencies, and also to coverage that improved public understanding of hazards. The winner was Jamie Morton from the New Zealand Herald, for an extended piece of print and online writing on the Hikurangi Subduction Zone entitled ‘Our Sleeping Taniwha.’

In the Response and Recovery category the joint winners were Kaikoura District Council for its communication and engagement efforts during the long-running recovery effort for New Zealand’s second-smallest district after the Kaikoura earthquake; and the North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery Alliance (NCTIR) for their project ‘Moving Mountains’ – recognising the huge communication and community engagement effort undertaken during the restoration of road access to Kaikoura after the 2016 earthquake.

The other finalists in this category were Auckland Council for Project Connect, a 14-day public information response to the major storm and power outages which hit Auckland in April and left 183,000 homes and businesses without electricity; Christchurch City Council for the Diamond Harbour E-Coli Boil Water Notice, alerting a small community to the potential contamination of their town water supply; and New Plymouth District Council for its marketing communications during the aftermath of ex-Cyclone Gita in February and March this year, when a fallen tree cut water to 10,000 homes and another 26,000 were on a boil water notice for 12 days.


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