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Restoring Australia’s Internet After the 2022 Floods

How Australia’s National Broadband Network Used Juvare’s WebEOC Emergency Management Solution to Accelerate Its Flood Response Efforts

Responding to One of Australia’s Worst Natural Disasters

Between late February and April of 2022, the Australian east coast experienced one of the country’s worst natural disasters in recent history as torrential downpours caused unprecedented levels of flooding. The catastrophic weather event, caused by a low-pressure system, resulted in the loss of 23 lives and forced thousands of residents to evacuate their homes and businesses.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison declared the situation a National Emergency and ordered members of the Australian Defence Force into flood-affected regions to assist existing response teams. The scale of the disaster throughout New South Wales and Queensland was extraordinary, with over 20,000 properties sustaining damage. According to the Insurance Council of Australia, the total estimated cost of the damage is expected to exceed $2.487 billion AUD for this single period.

Significant Damage to Vital Infrastructure

As the storms began to ease, the full extent of the damage was revealed. In addition to the significant toll the weather event had taken on residents’ homes and businesses, major infrastructure had sustained crippling damage. Throughout both states, landslips and cracking had severely impacted major roads, bridges, and freeways, restricting access. Water damage, fallen trees, and winds had cut off thousands of residents from essential services that desperately needed to be restored. Almost every essential service in flood-affected regions was damaged, from electricity networks to sewage systems to critical communication services.

NBN Responds to Over 300,000 Disconnected Services

The team at Australia’s largest high-speed, wholesale, local-access broadband network is responsible for ensuring that more than 8.5 million customers have access to essential communication daily. The National Broadband Network (NBN) offers Australian consumers access to their system through partnerships with Australian retail ISPs using a variety of different technologies for phone and internet services.
As the catastrophic weather event unfolded, flooding and storms caused significant damage at over 1,800 NBN-owned sites throughout New South Wales and Queensland. The unprecedented event resulted in over 300,000 premises across both states losing access to essential communication services. NBN needed to rapidly identify damaged equipment, prioritise locations, understand current weather conditions, and manage the repair process as quickly as possible.

NBN Accelerates Flood Response with WebEOC

During an event of this magnitude, one of the biggest challenges for national infrastructure providers is the volume of data and information that needs to be collected. NBN needed to transform this high-volume data into a common operating picture for all of the teams being coordinated to respond, react, and repair damaged infrastructure assets.
NBN accelerated their flood response by leveraging the latest in cloud-based incident management tech from the emergency preparedness and response experts at Juvare Asia Pacific. On February 25, the NBN team immediately created an incident and began using their custom Network Incident Management Board within Juvare’s WebEOC solution to manage the flood response.
NBN populated the Board with data from their Remedy ticketing system. The WebEOC Board presented a consolidated view of the huge volume of incoming information by categorising and grouping the data. For example: damaged sites, sites requiring power, and sites that could not be accessed due to road closures. The consolidated view delivered by WebEOC allowed NBN teams to prioritise and focus their efforts on responding to the right sites at the right time. The complete visibility provided by WebEOC allowed teams to rapidly restore Australians’ vital phone and internet connections in record time.

Instant Access to Real-Time Data from Ground Teams

NBN’s emergency management team used WebEOC’s consolidated information view to present a common operating picture of the situation to response teams on the ground. Activity logs captured important actions and key decisions for all participants to see in real time without the need to have multiple cascading conversations.
Leaders had complete visibility of vital location information that would have been otherwise invisible, allowing them to prepare for further infrastructure damage from storms and flooding as weather conditions changed. The WebEOC dashboard provided NBN with a complete picture of affected locations and those that were at risk of damage from electrical outages or predicted submersion. Field teams could be quickly reassigned as conditions changed, priorities shifted, or new damage occurred. WebEOC streamlined the NBN team’s flood response and minimised downtime by ensuring the most efficient use of every available resource at all times.

Key WebEOC Features Used to Restore Australia’s Internet Faster

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