News & Media

From the AIIA – Innovation technology industry supporting Australian bushfire relief

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Petra Vanessie

Petra Vanessie

January 14, 2020

On behalf of the innovation technology industry, our thoughts and deepest sympathies go out to all those affected by the bushfires around Australia at this time. We are very thankful to all those firefighters, emergency services and volunteers who are doing everything possible to save the communities and wildlife affected.

 

The industry is providing support to our members and the community at large so we encourage anyone or any organisation that has been affected to advise us of any support you require so that we may be of assistance.

It is pleasing to see the level of support that is already being provided in so many different and practical ways. Below is a sample of the many great works our members are engaged in to provide support to those in need.

Telstra – Maintaining Communications Infrastructure

 

As we know, telecommunications services is one of the most critical services during a recovery effort like this, both for the emergency service response teams and citizens trying to contact family and friends.

Telstra is working to ensure these services are restored to ensure that people can communicate with their loved ones. Telstra is having daily meetings to assess the current situation and emerging threats. Their operational teams are working around the clock to re-establish communications to impacted communities in collaboration with emergency service agencies across the nation, as well as bolster communications for communities at risk (as the fire zones continually move) and at recovery centres.

Telstra has also offered assistance packages to emergency volunteers, citizens and businesses impacted by the fires; Click on the links for further information on Disaster Relief Packages for customers in VicNSW and SA.

Support Services & Initiatives

 

There are many ways we can provide assistance to industry colleagues. One unique way is through the offer extended by member organisations to sole practitioner ICT consultants that work from home (in affected areas) to use their offices as temporary hot desks. SRA is one such organisation in SA that has made this offer. We encourage others across the country to consider similar services to our industry colleagues. Likewise, if you are one of those impacted and would like some assistance with finding office space or support, please contact our office and let us know.

IBM’s response includes the following actions:

 

Near-term actions:

  • Increased paid leave for their staff who are volunteers with the State Emergency Services and Rural Fire Service from 10 to 20 days. If more time is required, IBM will continue to provide support.
  • Dry food collection stations will be set up from Monday 13 January in IBM’s Southgate and Sydney offices in partnership with the requests of the Foodbank program.
  • IBM’s Blue Day Out Staff Volunteering Program is now taking place earlier than planned to enable teams of IBMers to support the needs of bushfire affected communities.
  • IBM is making a donation of AUD $100,000 to the Red Cross Australia Bushfire Appeal. In addition, staff contributions to the Red Cross are also being encouraged via the IBM.org website where IBM will cover all transaction and processing fees.

In the longer-term:

  • IBM’s global CSR team has committed to sponsor an IBM Service Corps in Australia specifically focused on bushfire recovery efforts. This will see a team of IBMers from across the world come together to leverage its technologies and solutions to help the community. This commitment requires a minimum of four weeks of dedicated service.
  • Next month IBM will launch a project where teams of IBMers can pitch ideas and apply for funding to support their communities in bushfire prevention management and recovery.
  • IBM is continuing to partner with Lifeline Australia to support the mental health of Australians in crisis.
  • IBM is engaging with the global IBM Call for Code winners Promoteo, who created an AI-based platform to monitor and act on firefighter health and safety, to identify ways in which they can provide practical support to Rural and Country Fire Services.

Philanthropic Support:

 

There are ways in which you can encourage members of your team to provide support as well.

For example, this is what one of our other members, Salesforce is doing:

  • Salesforce operates with a 1-1-1 philanthropic approach as part of their business model – employees can donate (and Salesforce donation-matches to certain $ amounts) and also volunteer up to 7 days of their time for any charitable activity with registered organizations like the Red Cross, WIRES, BlazeAid, etc as well as some employees who are volunteer firefighters with CFS agencies. The standard 7 day VTO allowance has been increased by an additional 20 days for any volunteer work that directly supports this crisis. This is in addition to uncapped emergency service leave offered by Salesforce. So there is a lot of participation taking place in this regards directly by employees and Salesforce itself is also donating over and above employee contributions.
  • Beyond monetary, food and other items donation, there is also a drive for blood donation taking place.
  • During times of need, employees are encouraged to offer space to people and/or animals through https://www.findabed.info/ and https://www.airbnb.com.au/openhomes/disaster-relief
  • Post crisis, employees are encouraged to support local tourism – After the fires and when the areas are declared safe, to consider where they next holiday.  The areas impacted all rely heavily on tourism.  Visiting these areas when it is safe to do so and bringing our dollar with us provides direct economic support which will help these communities rebuild.  It takes years to recover.

Several customers and partners also operate a similar 1-1-1 model – more details on 1-1-1, if this is of interest, can be found here: https://www.salesforce.org/pledge-1/

Financial Support:

 

Finally, financial donations are critical and we as an industry encourage organisations to contribute where they can through the authorised channels. Our colleagues at Deloitte have put together a directory of fund raising activities and emergency resources which can be found at https://crisis.app. Hopefully you might find this useful.

The NBN Co is embedded with state emergency services to restore impacted services across Australian, where possible and safe to do so.  We’ve dedicated emergency management team and approach, including field crews, community engagement teams, portable temporary network infrastructure – all prioritised in supporting Emergency Services and the community during national disaster response and recovery.

 

Current response and recovery activities include:

  • Bushfire recovery efforts and support blog, updated daily providing real-time infrastructure impacts and restoration activities.  See here
  • Free Wi-Fi to some 22 evacuation centres for those needing temporary internet access.  This includes the installation and operation of Sky Muster™ satellite connectivity, enabling internet and WiFi calling.  See here
  • On-call portable temporary network infrastructure such as Network On Wheels, Road Muster satellite vehicles, generators
  • Advice on staying connected in an emergency (preparation is the key), including what happens during a power outage.  See here
  • And more support initiatives to come…

For restoration of your nbn™ access network service contact your phone or internet service provider.  As a wholesaler, nbn work with them for safe and timely fix to services.

For more information contact nbn via 1800 687 626, info@nbnco.com.au or visit www.nbn.com.au

Copyright © 2020 Australian Information Industry Association, All rights reserved.
Petra Vanessie

Petra Vanessie

INCITE Marketing Manager