Central business districts (CBDs) are known for the high concentration of people in them, during business hours. This makes them a special case in emergency management. There is a strong need to provide timely, clear instructions to the public in this instance in order to contain any emergency situation and to avoid complications. SydneyALERT is a plan for this for the Sydney CBD and the North Sydney CBD, put in place under the auspices of the NSW Government Ministry for Police and Emergency Services. What types of messages can the public expect to receive in an emergency?
First of all, the aim of the plan is to facilitate intervention and management by police and emergency services, and, as required, to ensure the safety of people waiting to go back to work or go home, and to transport them or accommodate them on a temporary basis. The information communicated will depend on two factors: the emergency services that have chosen to be part of sydneyALERT; and the nature of the emergency. Emergency services can freely elect to participate in the communication plan, although activating the plan is a decision to be taken by the NSW State Emergency Operations Controller.
The information to be given to the public is then destined to be simple and to give clear instructions on what should be done. The message could be as basic as “stay at work” or “return home”, and is not necessarily an instruction to evacuate an area. Communication is done over using existing networks of mobile messaging and email. The information is then to be relayed by building managers, security staff and emergency wardens, using systems available in the buildings in the CBD, including email and public address systems.