Spatial Excellence Award for tsunami modelling

30 November 2007

Geoscience Australia and the Fire and Emergency Services Authority (FESA) in WA has received a joint Asia-Pacific Spatial Excellence Award (APSEA) in the Spatially Enabled Government category for their work on Tsunami Risk Modelling for Emergency Management. The award recognises projects that use spatial information and technology to improve government productivity, efficiency, service delivery, and help agencies integrate ‘customer-centric’ service delivery models. Dr Chris Pigram accepting the Spatial Excellence Award from Olaf Hedberg, Independent Chairman, PSMA Australia Board (Click to view larger image), © to

Dr Chris Pigram, Deputy CEO of Geoscience Australia, accepted the award at the annual APSEA ceremony at Luna Park in Sydney on Thursday 22 November.

Prior to the Indian Ocean tsunami of 26 December 2004, tsunami were rarely considered within an emergency management context for Australian coastal communities and therefore there was limited understanding of tsunami risk to the Australian coastline. However, this event clearly demonstrated the catastrophic nature of tsunami, and the numerous impacts to the WA coast highlighted the threat tsunami poses to the state. In recognition of this threat, Geoscience Australia and FESA of WA, formed a collaborative research partnership to address this issue.

There were two key components of this partnership; (1) the development and application of state-of-the-art science in order to model the tsunami risk, and (2) effective communication of this science to inform and underpin emergency management plans. The engagement and buy-in from all stakeholders was a significant contributing factor to the success of the project. The work was all conducted within the risk management methodology adopted by the emergency management community, and, for the first time in Australia, has led to best practice spatially enabled tsunami science underpinning emergency management plans.

The project used and developed a range of spatial products to deliver outcomes to the WA emergency managers. These products were in the form of maps as well as geospatial datasets which improves the capacity of FESA to integrate the results with other State level datasets to further improve service delivery. In addition to the quality of the spatial outputs, the methodology adopted in this project forms a basis for other jurisdictions to apply in order to understand their tsunami risk.

"This collaboration demonstrated the effectiveness of Australian and State Governments in harnessing and sharing the resources and information available to enable and improve efficiency. The integration of science and emergency management has been pivotal in the success of this project as the scientific outputs have been tailored and targeted to address the needs of the communities at risk", said Dr Pigram.

"This award highlights the efforts and calibre of staff associated with working on the project as well as our collaborative work with the States. As Deputy CEO, I am both flattered and honoured at Geoscience Australia receiving this prestigious award, and I congratulate all who worked on its preparation", he said.

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