Monday, May 07, 2007

City prepares for Public Safety

After the horrors of 911 and the London train bombings I called upon Council to take practical steps in preparing our city for a public emergency. Since that time the City's CCTV has been significantly upgraded and expanded. High level security meetings between all levels of government have been underway and for those of us on the streets of the city some tangible evidence of planning as the Daily telegraph reports below. Lets hope that these measures are never needed.

Blaring sirens for APEC

By Lillian Saleh May 07, 2007

ALMOST 50 loudspeakers and sirens will be installed across the Sydney CBD under a State Government plan to safeguard the city during the APEC Summit.
With city workers and visitors facing the prospect of road closures at short-notice, they will now also be warned of any security breaches or terrorist threats via this equipment as 21 of the world's leaders converge on Sydney this September. Sydney City Council has agreed to a request by the State Government to allow 49 public announcement and siren systems to be put on smartpoles. It will also allow for the installation of 12 variable message signs (VMS) on the smartpoles – which are multipurpose street poles with street lights and CCTV cameras – and one on the railway structure of the Cahill Expressway.

A copy of a Principles of Understanding agreement obtained by The Daily Telegraph stipulates 13 conditions including that the PS and VMS system "will be primarily used for communicating and assisting the public to safety in the event of a major incident".

The loud speakers and sign boards will be used to alert CBD workers, residents and visitors of a terrorist attack or natural disaster and guide them to safety. But under the agreement, the council will have the right to use the technology at major city events including New Years Eve. In return, the council will not charge the State Government rent for using the smartpoles. The systems are not permitted to be used for commercial advertising or promotional purposes.

"Except in the event of emergency, the hours of use of the PA system, and message relayed, will be limited to minimise disturbance to members of the public," the agreement states.

Liberal Councillor Shayne Mallard yesterday welcomed their installation and called for a public education campaign. "I have previously called upon the City Council to work more closely with State and Federal governments to improve safety for our 400,000 CBD workers and visitors," Mr Mallard said. September 7 has been declared a public holiday for Sydneysiders with the State Government last week launching a tourism drive to encourage residents to get out of town during the September 7 – 9 long weekend. It is understood a state-wide public holiday wasn't declared because it would have encouraged country locals to head to Sydney.

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