An RMIT University report released today examines the impact on south-west Victoria of the mass telecommunications outage in November 2012.
The report identifies the need for government, business and families to prepare telecommunications survival plans to help manage the impact of any future failures in telecommunications systems.
The outage, which lasted up to 20 days in some areas and affected at least 100,000 people, was estimated by the State Government to have cost the region almost $1 million a day – though the true financial impact may never be known.
Dr Kaye Scholfield, Senior Manager of RMIT University’s Hamilton site, said the report highlighted the impact that Telstra’s Warrnambool Exchange fire had on the local community.
Dr Scholfield said the report also showed that individuals and communities needed to be aware of this kind of calamity and develop a level of preparedness.
"What caught many people off guard was how interconnected telecommunications infrastructure is – from monitoring systems, to financial transactions, to interacting with health, education and children’s services," she said.
"Tourism was affected, and in the run-up to Christmas, many businesses could never properly account for the impact on their trade at a peak time of the year."
Supported by the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN), RMIT’s research report includes telecommunications survival guides that can be used by local communities to assist their planning.
Dr Mark Gregory, chief investigator of the RMIT research team, called for an increased focus on telecommunications reliability and resilience because of the vital role this service plays in all aspects of our lives.
"Business and individuals should consider telecommunications preparedness along with bushfire and other emergency responses," Dr Gregory said.
"While the immediate effects of the Warrnambool exchange fire have now receded, the lessons learnt from the Warrnambool exchange fire should not be lost."
Media note: A high-resolution colour photo of Dr Kaye Scholfield is available.
For interviews and images: Communications Project Officer Michelle Badenhorst, (03) 5572 0505, 0430 382 432.