The Simtables for Disaster Engagement project provides the Hunter and Central Coast region with two state-of-the-art simulation tools to help communities understand and prepare for natural disasters.
Extreme weather and natural disasters – such as fires, storms, floods, and extreme heat – threatens lives, property, and the environment. These events are becoming increasingly frequent and severe. However, there is increasing evidence to suggest that investment in preparedness aids the response and recovery of individuals and communities, as outlined in this report from the Red Cross.
The Hunter JO owns two Simtables; sophisticated “digital sand tables” that display spatial data (maps) with a focus on natural hazards. They are available for use across the Hunter and Central Coast to improve community awareness of natural hazards and how best to respond.
The Simtables work by showing how a hazard occurs on the landscape. Because they use local maps and data, the Simtables can provide Hunter and Central Coast residents with a highly realistic demonstration of how their properties and communities may be affected.
In particular, the Simtables include high quality modelling tools for simulating bushfire and smoke spread. These allow users to observe how factors such as wind speed and direction, vegetation type and density, and topography influence fire behaviour. They can also investigate how their local area may be affected by fire, recreate past fire situations in a controlled setting, and explore the impact of hazard reduction or fire response strategies.
Additionally, the Hunter JO is working to acquire a range of datasets that demonstrate the impact of a range of other hazard types – such as flooding or heat – and how communities can prepare and respond to ensure their safety.
Using the Simtables for community engagement provides an opportunity for attendees to investigate and understand their risks and vulnerabilities, strengthen community connections, and start to develop personalised preparedness and response plans, such as the RFS Bushfire Survival Plan or the SES Home Emergency Plan.
The Simtables are available for use by our member councils (including Central Coast), emergency management organisations, not-for-profits, community organisations and government agencies.
For more information about the Simtables project, or to organise a loan or demonstration, please contact Chris Dart, Senior Projects Coordinator at email@example.com or 0460 038 197.
The Hunter JO has several disaster resilience resources available, including:
- A communication framework for Councils
- A resource toolkit for the community service sector
- A ‘Beat the Heat’ toolkit
There is also a range of other helpful disaster planning resources and information available online:
- Emergency warnings and advice for fires and floods in NSW – Hazards Near Me app
- Home fire safety – Community fire safety – Fire and Rescue NSW
- Bushfire safety – Plan and prepare – NSW Rural Fire Service
- Flood, storm, and tsunami – Get Ready NSW | NSW State Emergency Service
- Health during disasters – Natural disasters and severe weather (nsw.gov.au)
The Simtables program has been supported by both the Bushfire Community Recovery and Resilience Fund (BCRRF), and the Disaster Risk Reduction Fund (DRRF), which are jointly funded by the Australian and New South Wales governments.