Media release - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Staff from Westland District Council’s Emergency Operations Centre got a first-hand experience of using West Coast Emergency Management’s newly purchased Starlink Satellite equipment today. Cindy Fleming Readiness Response Emergency Management Officer and Claire Brown West Coast Emergency Group Manager took Westland District Council CE and Westland District Controller Simon Bastion, and the Westland District Council Information Technology and Information Management teams through a training exercise at Cass Square in Hokitika.
“Satellite communications is going to be an important part of emergency responses in the future,” advises Ms Fleming. “If and when the West Coast gets totally cut off from communications this will allow the Emergency Operations Centre to connect to internet and wifi enabled cell phone communications, to maintain communications with the National Emergency Management Agency and continue to provide information to the communities.”
“The equipment that we used today in Cass Square is a Starlink satellite broadband system which is installed in a specialised case designed by Christchurch firm J-Tech. It’s fully transportable to any location and is able to run off the 12V accessories plug in a car if other power sources are unavailable. That’s why Cass Square was a great place to hold the training – there’s no power source so we practiced connecting it to the car and setting the technology up. Having more people who know how to use it means that whomever is first on the ground in an emergency can get communications going. It also means there is back-up for staff who manage the technology.”
“We intend to run EOC exercises with the satellite next year with the wider community to train more people. In the future we would like to have a Starlink Satellite in all Westland communities. Confirmation that we will receive $200,000 from the Three Waters Better Off Funding package brings us closer to realising this goal. The more ways we have to keep communications running throughout the district the better.”
Simon Bastion says “It was valuable to learn how to use the Starlink Satellite, and I am excited to have the technology available in the event that we need it. We will do our best to get funding to provide more of these across the district.”
Media enquiries to:
Emma Rae, Strategy and Communications Advisor