National emergency warning system

In the lead up to last summer's bushfire season, AGS advised the Commonwealth and Victorian Governments on the establishment of a national telephone-based emergency warning system. The system, publicly known as 'Emergency Alert', is capable of delivering warning messages to landlines (based on the location of the handset) and to mobile phones (based on the subscriber's registered address). The system provides emergency service organisations with an enhanced ability to warn communities in the event of an emergency.

The Commonwealth committed $26.3 million to the development of the capability. Victoria agreed to conduct a select tender process on behalf of all participating States and Territories. AGS assisted the Victorian Government through the process of setting up an inter-governmental arrangement between the participating States and Territories, as well as drafting other documentation to assist in the delivery of the warning system. The process resulted in Victoria entering into a contract with Telstra in late September 2009.

An AGS team lead by John Scala and including Garth Cooke, Adrian Snooks, Rebecca McGloughlin, Simon Anderson, Stuart Hilton and Paul Lang assisted the Victorian Government through this complex and resource intensive process by:

  • providing timely advice on alternative contracting structures
  • developing a contract, which made provision for requirements including the design, development, commissioning and operation of the system
  • developing an inter-governmental MOU to govern the management of the system by Victoria for and on behalf of all participating jurisdictions
  • working with a number of parties (including representatives of the Victorian Department of Treasury and Finance, the Office of the Victorian Emergency Services Commissioner and the Victorian Government Solicitor) to successfully negotiate and conclude an agreement with Telstra and the MOU with all participating jurisdictions, to deliver the warning system to help protect Australians from all hazards, including bushfire.

Helen Curtis and Tony Beal advised the Attorney-General's Department on the development of an inter-governmental agreement/MOU between the Commonwealth and the States and Territories for the management of and access to a national Location Based Number Store database, which supports the operation of Emergency Alert and Western Australia's warning system StateAlert.

Tony Beal, Peter Kidd and Joanna Piva advised the Attorney-General's Department on the conduct of the procurement process for the establishment of this database, as well as complex licensing arrangements associated with the Integrated Public Number Database and relevant geospatial data. Chief General Counsel Robert Orr QC and Senior General Counsel Phill White provided advice on applicable telecommunications legislation.

This is an extract from the 2009–10 AGS annual report