Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Smart Cities Need to Maximise Use of New Technology during Emergencies

The Dublin Floods of 24th October were discussed at the monthly City Council meeting tonight.
Moving tributes were paid to Garda Ciaran Jones and Nurse Cecilia Jesus who tragically lost their lives in the floods.
While the efforts of the Emergency Services, including the Fire Brigade, Civil Defence, Gardai and City Council staff were commended, Counclllors were critical of the Council's communications handling of the event.
It is still not clear why no flood warning was issued in the course of the day -given the intensity of the rain. It is unacceptable that the "Emergency Plan" was not activated until 8pm by which time much of the City was immersed in water.
I witnessed at first hand the floods in Sheriff Street, East Wall and North Strand on the night and visited many homes in Cabra the following day. I saw the devastation the floods caused to people's homes and their lives. I listened to the complaints of residents who relayed stories of how they could not get through to the emergency numbers and that promises of updates and to return calls were not fulfilled. I was struck with the number of people who expressed their frustration that the City Council website contained no information or updates - even on matters as basic as where to access sandbags.
The aftermath of the floods will pose their own problems - financial assistance for those whose homes were destroyed, insurance issues, flood prevention in the future.
It is time we ensured that we maximise the use of existing technology and social networking to get the information to people during an emergency.
Link to my full statement after City Council meeting is here

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