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We all heard the news about the devastating bushfires in Victoria, Australia. The fires started February 7, 2009 and were finally brought under control near the end of March. The communities of Kinglake and Marysville were hit particularly hard. Thousands of people lost their homes and many lost their lives.   “The conditions—we’ve never seen anything like them before,” said Damian Coyne, volunteer firefighter, Microsoft account manager, the day the Victorian bushfires began. It was a situation that far exceeded anything the local responders had been faced with to date.

In any emergency we often hear about the dedicated first responders – firefighters, police, and clip_image004emergency response teams. In this case, behind the scenes, there was also a team of Microsoft partners. One partner in particular got the ball rolling. Australian based Maptel leveraged their partner relationships and called on them for help. Even before a request was made by the Victoria emergency operations centers or local police, partners were assembling people resources, communication infrastructure, hardware (mobile devices, laptops, phones) and software. The level of coordination and selflessness of each company as well as the unlimited hours contributed by the individuals involved was impressive. It is inspiring to see so many companies come together to produce a time-critical communication solution that delivered value so quickly. And helping to coordinate communications and Microsoft resources to assist was the Microsoft Disaster Response team.

The partners included Maptel, ESRI, Microsoft, Trimble, Motorola, Telstra and Navteq. This team provided hardware, software and services to assist the Victoria Police with victim identification, search and rescue efforts and helped the Australian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council collect behavior data on the fire, people, and houses.

The systems that were created as a temporary solution to help with the immediate situation are now being looked at as a long term tools to facilitate situational awareness, mobile/field operations, and risk assessment. Operational commanders can now get real time data from their field personnel, are able to more closely analyze search and recovery programs, and can build on a common operating picture to make split-second decisions.

In this case it was one partner reaching out to their network to make things happen. One individual can make a difference, especially when our partners are ready to answer the call.

Great work team!!

Heather Blatchford

Global Partner Team

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