19 Oct 2009
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Telecommunications Emergency services Communications

New Web site to support emergency services when minutes matter

Terralink International, the company that provides physical address and location data to the emergency services under a commercial contract, has launched a new Web site called myaddress.co.nz.

The Web site allows Kiwis to check and confirm that the emergency services have the right details on how to find them.

Managing Director Mike Donald says the idea for the Web site emerged following a number of incidents where emergency services couldn’t find an address because they had been given a ‘local’ name for a road or an address instead of its official name.

“In an emergency situation a few minutes can mean the difference between life and death,” Mr Donald says.

The free Web site allows users to see the location detail currently held, its physical location on a high-resolution aerial image, and then they’re able to confirm or correct their address. In addition, it allows people to add specific information such as a building or farm name, or local names for a suburb.

Mr Donald says although people don’t like to think about emergency scenarios, it’s vital that they do.

“Taking a few minutes to check your address or those of your loved ones could be the best thing you could ever do,” he says.

“You need to think about the easiest way for a fire engine, ambulance or the police to find your home. There are many local names for locations that differ from the official information. Having this localised information added to the location database may save precious minutes in response time to an emergency, which could be the difference between saving a life or not.”

The New Zealand Fire Service, Ambulance and New Zealand Police support initiatives such as myaddress.co.nz to improve location data available to them, and say the additional location information will be invaluable.

Superintendent Andy McGregor, National Manager of the Police Communications Centres, says comprehensive and accurate address details are critical in directing units straight to where incidents are happening.

“Staff in our Communications Centres find it extremely helpful to have local names for roads at their fingertips so they can immediately verify a caller’s location. And we can save valuable minutes by giving police units instructions on the quickest way to enter a large rural property.”

Rural should also make sure emergency services have their Rapid Rural Number recorded so they are easier to find in an emergency.

Superintendent McGregor says the myaddress.co.nz initiative is a great way for the public to do their bit to help the emergency services get to incidents as soon as possible.

“We have world class mapping systems that rely on Terralink updates, so it’s in everyone’s interests to make sure the information is as accurate as we can jointly make it,” he says.

Any new information users submit through the Web site will be verified by Terralink’s extensive data verification process before being added to the database that is accessed by the emergency services.

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