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Inquiry results in new map for regional emergencies.

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Press Release Ref: 1447 Published: 16/2/2005 Title: Inquiry Results in New Map for Regional Emergencies

Emergency workers and the local community have been delivered with an updated 1:100,000 scale topographic map of the ACT region as a direct result of the recommendations from the House of Representatives Select Committee on the Recent Australian Bushfires report on the

devastating January 2003 bushfires - A Nation Charred: Inquiry into the Recent Australian Bushfires.

Federal Industry Parliamentary Secretary, Warren Entsch MP, yesterday joined Federal Member for Eden-Monaro, Gary Nairn MP, and ACT Senator Gary Humphries in welcoming the release of the new map.

Gary Nairn, who chaired the only comprehensive national inquiry into the 2003 bushfires, said accurate local maps were essential in responding to any emergency situation.

“One of the things identified in the course of the inquiry was the need for emergency response personnel to have accurate up-to-date maps. This is absolutely critical,” Mr Nairn said.

“While Geoscience Australia provided fire fighters at the time with the only readily available maps to help in the immediate response to the tragic 2003 bushfires, many of the maps distributed were terribly out of date making it difficult to coordinate the fire fighting response.

“Geoscience Australia has responded magnificently in addressing this problem and bringing these maps up to date. I would particularly like to congratulate GA on recognising the need for topographic information for larger, more detailed maps - 1:50,000 or 1:25,000 topographic maps - to be available in the future.”

The COAG inquiry identified the need for topographic data at 1:25,000 and 1:50,000 for

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operational use. Geoscience Australia is responding to this need by working with the States to jointly develop single ‘point of truth’ GIS databases which can be used to derive maps at a range of scales.

“Maps of this scale would provide a new level of information which may prove invaluable in protecting life and property when the next disaster strikes,” Senator Humphries said.

Mr Entsch said the new 1:100,000 map was the result of a whole-of-government approach, using the latest in remote sensing and mapping technologies to ensure it includes information vital to emergency mitigation and management.

“Updating the Canberra 1:100,000 scale map has been a significant undertaking by Geoscience Australia on behalf of the Australian Government in the wake of the 2003 bushfires,” Mr Entsch said.

“The map not only provides emergency service workers with critical information like the location of fire trails, bridges and dams, it also provides other local users with a good overview of the ACT and surrounding region.”

Geoscience Australia worked with the ACT Emergency Services Authority to produce the Canberra map and Geographical Information System (GIS) data product which has already been delivered to emergency management workers for planning and operational exercises.

The Canberra map is part of a cooperative pilot program being undertaken by Geoscience Australia in partnership with State and Territory emergency management and mapping agencies, and addresses both the House of Representatives Select Committee Inquiry into the Operational Response to the January 2003 Bushfires in the ACT and the Council of Australian

Governments (COAG) National Inquiry on Bushfire Management, Prevention and Mitigation in Australia.

“This pilot program specifically addresses emergency management needs by developing tailored products based on the collection and maintenance of fundamental data required for emergency management that will be built into ongoing mapping programs,” Mr Entsch said.

To enhance national cooperation and achieve best practice using technologies capable of reducing the impact of natural hazards, Geoscience Australia is continuing to work with the States and other Australian Government agencies to coordinate the purchase of high-resolution satellite imagery, and to map critical infrastructure such as roads, buildings, and dams for emergency management purposes.