New Zealand: Disaster hub opens on Wellington campus

A one-stop shop for disaster risk reduction and emergency management was officially launched today on Massey University’s Wellington campus.

The Disaster Hub, being launched by the Joint Centre for Disaster Research, provides a facility for collaboration between staff of all public and private organisations, universities, and training entities with an interest in emergency management. Guests at the launch include Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown and her Christchurch counterpart Lianne Dalziel. Centre director and IRDR Science Committee chair Dr. David Johnston says the Disaster Hub is founded on 25 years of emergency management teaching and research at Massey University, and almost 10 years of a collaborative partnership with Geologic and Nuclear Sciences (GNS).

The hub is housed in low-rise, quake resistant buildings covering about 500 square metres and includes facilities for administration, teaching and research staff, PhD and post-doctoral students as well as staff from partner organisations. Hub partners include Wellington Regional Emergency Management Office, IRDR – ICoE CR (Community Resilience), EQC and the New Zealand Red Cross.

“The new Disaster Hub represents a strategic step forward to ensure that current and future disaster risk management partner organisations have a shared space to work together, connecting practice to research and research to practice,” Dr Johnston says. He says the joint approach ensured that the expertise of New Zealand disaster risk and emergency managers was at the forefront of all conference sessions relevant to New Zealand and programmes taught there and in the Pacific. The 3pm launch will be preceded at 1pm by a presentation from Professor Lisa Brown of Palo Alto University, California, on “Educating and preparing the public for disasters: A new model for disaster literacy”.

The Disaster Hub includes an Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) that is used for response coordination training and research. It also acts as the coordination centre for responses to emergencies that may affect the university campus. The EOC has its own back-up power generation and satellite telecommunications systems to ensure it can operate self-sufficiently in most emergency situations. The Joint Centre for Disaster Research had a lead role in coordinating the presence of five New Zealand universities’ at the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, in Sendai, Japan, in March this year.