Tag Archives: EmergencyAus

#VicEmergency, phone app question

With the continued dry weather and fire season fast approaching, I’m a bit worried by the VicEmergency app on my phone. Okay, lie, I’m a lot worried. I get notifications of fires within my watch zone, but the damn phone doesn’t ‘ring’. All I get is a vibration.

When I’m home, the phone sits on my desk so I can generally hear it as it bounces around. If I go to the bathroom or into the kitchen to make a cup of coffee, I hear nothing at all. Zero. Zip. Nada.

My phone is a Samsung Galaxy SII with the most up-to-date firmware it can take. I looked up the specs. My phone should be receiving the VicEmergency notifications without any problems. And I do, I just can’t hear them.

I’ve checked the phone and all the settings are fine. I get proper notification sounds for both calls and SMS messages. What’s more, when I was using the now defunct, EmergencyAus phone app. I had a special sound setup just for the notifications. If I heard that sound I knew to go check the phone, immediately.

-sigh- I really have to say this. The EmergencyAus app was ten times better than the VicEmergency app that seems to have pushed it out of the market. VicEmergency should be the better app because it includes data – such as wind direction – that wasn’t available on EmergencyAus. Read this post to see why wind direction is good.

The trouble is, the VicEmergency app is slow to load and slow to update.  I’ve seen fires showing on the app long after they’ve been downgraded to ‘safe’ on the VicEmergency website. That makes me wonder how much I can trust the app to provide emergency info. when there really is an emergency situation. And I can’t hear the alerts. In some ways, that’s the worst thing about the app because I’m now constantly worried that I’ve missed a vital notification. And that will only get worse as the season progresses.

So, the reason for this post is to ask other VicEmergency users out there if you get notifications with sound or not. If you do, what phone are you using?

I can’t afford to buy new phones for the Offspring and me, but I can’t afford to continue with this stress either. Not being able to hear the alerts has dumped me right back into the emotional state I was in after Black Saturday. People died because they didn’t know. 😦

Oh, and I did try to get some info. from VicEmergency itself but got no reply. Don’t you just love government agencies?

Any info. gratefully received.

Meeks


Optus network and EmergencyAus – update

Just thought I’d let everyone know that I can now access EmergencyAus via my browser!

emergencyaus-on-pc

It’s in beta but the most important parts work just fine. You can find it at:

http://emergencyaus.info/map

No download required as it all runs from within the browser.

cheers,

Meeks

 

This morning’s post:

This is a bushfire danger post so if you’re not from Australia, or not interested, look away now.

Okay, my mobile phone carrier is Virgin. Virgin uses the Optusnet network. If the Optusnet network in a given area goes down, the Virgin mobile phones in that area become useless lumps of plastic and circuitry.

My mobile phone became a useless lump of plastic and circuitry this morning. Not just for a minute or two, but for over 2 hours.

What does this have to do with bushfires? EmergencyAus, that’s what.

The EmergencyAus app on my phone sends me notifications of ANY issues within a 5 km radius of my house in Nth Warrandyte. It is my early warning system. It is the one thing that has given me peace of mind since Black Saturday.

If you stayed to defend your house as I did on that horrible day, you’ll know that reliable information was next to impossible to find. I spent all day listening to ABC radio 774 [the emergency broadcaster] and haunting the CFA website. Some horrific reports did come in from people calling in to 774, but the reality was that no one knew what the hell was going on, including me.

It was the not-knowing that terrified me on Black Saturday, and it was the same sense of isolation that made me as nervous as a wet cat this morning. You see, EmergencyAus can’t work if there is no network connection. It relies on my mobile phone to warn me of danger. No phone, no warning. I do have a landline [thank goodness], but EmergencyAus is a mobile app.

According to the Virgin support person I spoke to, an Optus tower was experiencing an unexpected outage, and as it was the only tower I could link to [? how does that work anyway?] I’d just have to wait until it was repaired.

Waiting was not such a huge issue today because although there is a north wind, the temperature is still fairly low after a wintry night. But imagine if this had happened during a heatwave when temperatures reach 40 C plus? That one tower goes down and I’m…f…in trouble.

I suppose I should be grateful to get a wakeup call before we hit a code red day, but I’m not feeling much like Pollyanna today.

Not Happy, Jan 😦

Meeks

 


EmergencyAus – great tech support!

I recently wrote a post about a smartphone app called ‘EmergencyAus’. It was not a happy post because I was not getting all the available notifications about potential bushfires in my area.

[Note: one of the things I’ve always hated about summer/fire season in Warrandyte is the fear of not knowing when a fire is nearby. By the time ABC radio 774 broadcasts a warning, you’re already on the back foot. What the EmergencyAus app does is send SMS warnings to your smartphone whenever a fire starts anywhere in your ‘watch zone’, i.e. 5 km around my home. But in order to relax a bit, you have to trust that the alerts will get through to you.]

As well as ranting here, on my blog, I also sent off an email to the EmergencyAus tech support people.To be honest I did not expect tech support to do much – email support is very hard at the best of times.

Imagine my surprise, and delight, when I discovered that EmergencyAus tech support really do provide support. Not only did they finally sort out my problems, but they stuck with me through 28, yes TWENTY-EIGHT emails [I know because I just counted them]. That …is patience with a capital ‘P’!

With another hot day coming up, I’d like to say thank you to EmergencyAus for helping me get my peace of mind back. Thanks guys. 😀

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the problem seems to be an older version of Android teamed with Google apps that haven’t been updated since the year dot.

cheers

Meeks

 


App woes – EmergencyAus

emergencyausAbout six months ago, I installed an app on my phone called EmergencyAus. It’s supposed to provide an up-to-date list of every event, of any sort, that happens in Victoria.

More importantly, the app also allows me to set a 5 km watch zone around my house. In theory, if anything happens within that watch zone, an alert is sent to my phone.

Despite not being obsessed with ringtones, I set a special one, just for those alerts, and for a while there, I jumped every time I heard it go off. I’d grab my phone and feverishly tap the little red indicator to see what was happening.

But then an odd thing began to happen – I started to relax. I’d still check every warning about trees down, or accidents, or the odd fire, but I was no longer a mumbling mess. You see I was starting to trust that the app would give me that little bit of advanced warning no one got on Black Saturday.

The events of Black Saturday have dimmed in the consciousness of the general public, but for me, every summer since has been a repeat of the controlled terror I felt that day. Not because I’m terrified of the fire itself, but because I’m terrified of not knowing.

You see, that was the worst thing about Black Saturday for me, the not knowing. I sat here with the fire shutters down, eyes glued to the CFA website, with 774 blaring in the background, completely unaware that people were burning just up the road in St Andrews and Strathewen. I didn’t learn about those deaths until the next day. Only then did it become obvious that the authorities had not had a clue where the fire was, or where it was going. And because they did not know, no one received the kind of warning that might have saved lives.

The EmergencyAus app promised to provide the advanced warning we did not get on Black Saturday. And as I began to trust the app, I started to relax. I even began writing again because I could listen to my own music, instead of listening to cricket commentary on radio 774.

But that all ended this morning. The phone is still sitting on my desk, but I no longer trust it, or the EmergencyAus app.

Why? Because I checked the emergency.vic.gov.au website this morning, and discovered that a bushfire has been burning 4.7 km from my home since about 5 pm yesterday and I knew nothing about it.

The bushfire is in parkland to the west of me, and is listed as ‘under control’, but I’m still devastated. Why did I receive no warning? Did I simply miss it?

I checked back through all the notifications on my phone, and nope, no warning about that fire. Then I checked the app’s event list and yes, the fire did appear there. So why did I get no warning? And how many others have I missed?

I’ve emailed the company about this ‘problem’, but I don’t expect an answer any time soon. And I don’t expect to be reassured when I do receive one; computer glitches that mess with your work are one thing, glitches like this one are potentially life threatening.

I’ll update this post as soon as I receive a reply from the EmergencyAus company, but in the meantime, can anyone recommend another app that does the same thing, but better?

Oh, and it’s New Year’s Eve morning here in Australia so… Happy New Year in advance.

Meeks


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