Australia — YALLINGUP residents are among the first to trial a new bushfire warning system.
During the next few months, they will test the Sentinel Alert emergency warning system, and will soon start receiving test messages on alarms installed at their properties.
Vasse MLA Troy Buswell officially launched the trials at Dunsborough on Friday, praising the retired Yallingup electronics engineer who was spurred to invent the technology when fire threatened his neighbourhood in March 2009.
As the local member for one of Western Australias most fire-risk regions I applaud Ray Datodi and his dedicated team for their unswerving commitment to community protection via the communication medium of Sentinel Alert, he said.
Using a combination of satellite and wireless technologies, the Sentinel Alert system enables individual household alarms encoded with GPS to be activated by authorities. When triggered, the alarms sound and display relevant information, including the location of the blaze and instructions for evacuation, on a screen.
Trial participant and South West MLC Barry House said the unique system would help improve the safety of residents in fire-risk Yallingup.
Growing up in the area I recall several large, frightening bushfires as a kid, he said.
With development over the years, the risks of uncontrolled fires are even higher.
South West Development Commission (SWDC) CEO Don Punch said Sentinel Alert had been designed to work alongside existing emergency warning systems and had the potential to be used in a variety of emergency situations.
Because the system enables authorities to pinpoint the buildings they want to alert, there is scope to use Sentinel Alert in other situations, he said.
The commission sees public interest in further enhancing the way people are warned of emergency situations in remote and regional bushland areas.
SWDC has provided practical assistance for the Yallingup trial, but has also allocated $95,000 to enable a larger trial to go ahead at Jalbarragup in the Shire of Nannup.
Inventor Ray Datodi said a small-scale, proof-of-concept trial had taken place in Yallingup in March 2010.
Once the trials are complete and we have proof of both the value and the engineering of the system, we will present a publicly available report to the relevant authorities for them to consider enhancing public safety by wide scale implementation of the system, he said.