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VicEmergency app update

POSTED: 
21 November 2016

Victoria's emergency management sector has been working hard to develop and implement a range of new emergency management communication and decision-making tools this summer.

One of these tools is the new VicEmergency app, which was launched last week and has replaced the FireReady App as the go to place for emergency information.

It is the first time an app like VicEmergency has been used in Australia and it represents a big step forward in the way we provide communities with information about all emergencies.  

VicEmergency App has been developed across the last seven months to include warnings and incidents for fires, floods, storms, earthquake, tsunamis and water safety. It was released to the App Store and Google Play last week after extensive testing to assess its useability and performance.

Since its launch there have been some technical glitches, as we transition users across from FireReady to the new VicEmergency app. This has been frustrating for some people and the support team has been working to respond to any community queries as quickly as possible.

On Sunday afternoon, the VicEmergency app sent out a state-wide Total Fire Ban notification to some users.  This information was incorrect and caused concern to the app community, which is totally understandable.  There has been no impact on other notifications.

The app developers and testing teams are focused and working to improve the performance of the app.  A fix for some of the smaller design issues is expected to be released on Tuesday after the spike in hot weather and the predicted storms have passed, so as not to cause any further problems.   Further work will continue to be done to improve functionality and resolve community issues.

Many of the changes and new features of the VicEmergency app have come from the feedback received about how FireReady could be improved.  

This includes creating a user profile. There has been some community concern about setting up a profile which requires users to provide their first and last name and an email address.

There are many benefits to creating a profile as it enables users to access their watch zones on the VicEmergency website and the VicEmergency app from multiple devices, including mobile phones and tablets. Any personal information provided to VicEmergency is protected.

You must also choose what emergency information you want to receive.  To do this you have to turn on the notifications for emergencies you want to know about as it's not automatic. For example, if you just want fire, turn on the notifications for the different types of fires.
Some people have reported the VicEmergency app to be slow. As the VicEmergency app is a website running from a mobile phone, it takes slightly longer to download additional information for users with a mobile phone more than four years old, such as the Samsung Galaxy S3.  For users with a new phone such as the iPhone 5,6,7 or the Samsung Galaxy S6 or S7, this should not be a problem as the VicEmergency app  loads very quickly, just like any other app.

Bugs and minor technical difficulties are inevitable given the complexities of the data being displayed and the various operating systems and phones that need to be accommodated.

The Victorian community is passionate about emergency information and have always had strong opinions about what they like and don't like in an app.  The same passionate response occurred when the app changed three years ago and in the end it went from about 400,000 downloads to 1.2 million downloads of FireReady.

Take the time to use the new app and get used to it, so you know how it works before you need to use it.

There are a variety of other sources available to access emergency information including the VicEmergency website emergency.vic.gov.au which is mobile enabled, the VicEmergency Hotline 1800 226 226, VicEmergency Facebook and Twitter, tuning in to ABC radio or other emergency broadcasters including commercial and community radio stations or Sky TV.

Know how to stay informed and to never rely on one source for emergency information.

If you are experiencing issues with the VicEmergency app or to find answers to your app questions visit the VicEmergency Knowledge Base: http://support.emergency.vic.gov.au. If you are unable to find an answer to a question, you can also submit a ticket via the online form.