Skip to main content

National Resilience

Natural Disasters - the right information in the right hands 

To effectively respond to natural disasters, decision makers need information that is easy to act on, fast.

The scenario

Australia is prone to natural disasters, most frequently bushfires and floods. Indeed, the whole planet faces its greatest challenge in history, climate change. When responding to these threats, the best weapon emergency services have is their ability to mobilise data into action - saving lives, land and livestock.

The problem 

Same thing, different name? Or is it the same name, different situation?

Natural disasters have a few things in common. They can be sudden, surprising, and vicious. But they are not completely unpredictable. Making decisions based on data in the heat of the moment relies on the data being accurate, and terminology being streamlined.

The problem isn’t that such accurate information doesn’t exist. But useful data belongs to too many disparate agencies or departments, who currently may not have efficient ways to share and consolidate their data. 

In addition, each organisation may work based on differing taxonomies. For example,  perhaps the definition of a Priority 1 emergency in one response unit doesn’t align with the definition at another. 

So, how do we gather essential data in one place and then disseminate it in a format that is accessible to both emergency services decision makers and the frontline?

The solution

Aggregation of information for speedy responses to natural disasters

The SURROUND Ontology Platform can be used to make sense out of unlinked data and language across literally limitless sources. With the ability to quickly digest information regardless of the taxonomy or origin, emergency service responses can be better informed than ever before, even when inhibitors such as interruptions to cellular service, varying levels of skills of responders, and gaps in information in mapping present issues in emergency circumstances.  

A Discrete Global Grid System (DGGS) has been trialed by SURROUND for aggregating critical but disparate information from multiple sources which can inform decision making. This will have positive impacts on services such as schools, power stations, water supply, substations, and public transport. Either separately or in combination with the ontology platform, SURROUND can provide the underlying information needed for a visualisation tool that informs and supports rapid decision making under time sensitive circumstances.



In 2019 Australia was impacted by devastating bushfires, which caused 34 deaths, and more than 18 million hectares of land burned.

While most of the population in affected areas carefully monitored all news sources available to them during this event, discrepancies occurred in information on wind patterns and the trajectory of the fires, which had the potential to lead to fatalities.

In rural areas, or where road upgrades were recently completed or in progress, traditional map services were also displaying incorrect information, hampering evacuation efforts


In the Australian states of Queensland and northern New South Wales, floods in 2021 significantly impacted over 11,000 homes, killing livestock, crops, and native animals.

By utilising data within a DGGS, SURROUND was able to map the path of the incoming flood water. Schools, roads, hospitals, and power stations were overlaid on the visualisation, which would provide time sensitive information to protect essential services.

Possible future uses for this DGGS would be to assist telecommunications work closely with government in alerting at-risk citizens to impending danger.

The SURROUND difference

Our mission is to take the complexity out of managing data, ensuring efficiency, accuracy and transparency for your staff and for the public.

With an array of experts in the semantic web, spatial data, machine learning and conceptual modelling, the SURROUND team has created a flexible technology offering that is a unique and powerful leader in data and metadata management.

Our product suite includes

Insights and helpful links 

  • Data Fabric (DF): is the broad collection of knowledge and information assets that an organisation collects and uses to meet its objectives. SURROUND delivers the capabilities that underpin the key pillars of a comprehensive data fabric, as explained by Gartner.
  • Language Curation (LC): is the management, selection, organisation, and presentation of the use of language, typically at an organisation level, that incorporates general and specialised language usage. 
  • Error Checking (EC): an intelligent technique to validate the technical use of language, to decrease ambiguity, to increase the consistency of metadata and data elements, and to validate that end-to-end processes have been successfully undertaken.