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Business case study

Victoria State Emergency Service Nillumbik Unit

Staying connected during an emergency.

When natural disaster strikes - from fallen trees, storms and floods to earthquakes, landslides, and tsunamis - the Victoria State Emergency Service (VICSES) responds.

The VICSES Nillumbik unit covers a 412 square-kilometre region north-east of Melbourne. The area is a collection of townships, villages and suburbs set amongst unspoilt bushland and picturesque hills.

While living amongst nature ranks among the region's appeal, it comes with well-known risks. Even minor storms that barely register elsewhere can wreak havoc on Nillumbik's green wedge communities. And as climate change leads to more extreme weather events, there's a greater need for VICSES than ever before.

With natural disasters increasing in frequency and severity, VICSES Nillumbik has had to navigate multiple power outages. But with internet connectivity an essential emergency response tool, they needed a reliable mobile connection to keep them online when it matters most.

The challenge

In times of emergency, VICSES Nillumbik and its team of 50 active volunteers rely on internet connectivity. The internet allows volunteers to access real-time updates on rapidly changing situations. They also use online channels to communicate with the public and other emergency response teams.

But during extreme weather events such as storms, where connectivity is most important, it's also at its most precarious. It came to a head during a particularly vicious storm in October 2021. The turbulent weather led to a power outage, which meant the unit's fixed-line internet connection went down.

The unit lost connectivity and had to rely on radios and personal mobile devices, resulting in their headquarters becoming largely disconnected. The lack of connectivity was especially problematic as all resource coordination occurs on site. While they had a reliable source of backup electricity through a dedicated generator, internet was the next problem.

While the unit managed, they did so under unnecessarily high pressure. But as storms got more frequent and intense, power outages became a fixture of their impact. Deputy Controller Luke knew the VICSES Nillumbik unit couldn't keep going like this.

After multiple power outages during recent storms, we knew we couldn't rely on a single fixed-line internet connection. We needed a mobile internet service that would serve as a backup and keep us connected in times of emergency.

LukeDeputy Controller, VICSES

The solution

Unavoidable power outage issues aside, VICSES Nillumbik couldn't be happier with their fixed-line business nbn® from Aussie Broadband.

So when the time came to search for a solution to their critical connectivity needs, all Luke had to do was reach out to Aussie Broadband. A mobile broadband solution delivered via a data-only SIM was the obvious choice.

To give them a mobile broadband solution fit for purpose, the Aussie Broadband team got to know their data needs in more detail.

Just as VICSES Nillumbik depend on online communication tools, so do others in the community, particularly in a power outage. VICSES Nillumbik rely on apps for real-time data on rapidly changing situations, such as weather trackers. These activities are as bandwidth-intensive as they are critical. And running out of data while in the thick of it wasn't an option.

So, VICSES Nillumbik decided to fortify their data reserves with a 120GB data-only SIM. 120GB gives VICSES Nillumbik enough data to continue following optimal emergency response procedures during a power outage.

They connect their data-only SIM card to a dual-WAN modem, allowing them to maintain a fast, reliable data connection when using mobile broadband.

The result

Mobile Broadband gives VICSES the flexibility of instant failover connectivity in critical situations - and day-to-day business.

In those critical emergencies, the growing threat of power outages no longer affects VICSES Nillumbik's emergency response times and effectiveness. That means less stress for the unit's volunteers and the 120,000+ residents who reside within VICSES Nillumbik's footprint.

"We're in a much better place thanks to mobile broadband. As a community emergency services team, there's a lot of anxiety about how we can continue to provide the level of support our community needs as extreme weather events become more frequent"

"Mobile Broadband is a small expense that only requires a little upkeep or maintenance on our end. But it has an enormously positive impact on our ability to respond to emergencies."

Aussie Broadband's mobile broadband uses Optus's reliable 4G mobile network, which covers 98.5% of Australia's population. Should the closest mobile tower be caught in a storm and not work, the mobile broadband service it powers will instantly switch to the next closest tower. With this powerful redundancy, Luke and his team know their 4G service is ready whenever needed.

With emergency response the utmost priority, no one at VICSES Nillumbik has time to waste on hold to their telco. With access to fast and effective support from the Aussie Broadband team, VICSES Nillumbik don't have to stress about the impact of any potential service issues.

Customer service has been 10/10. We experienced one minor setup issue, which the customer service team promptly sorted. I was impressed by how knowledgeable and approachable the team were … There has been no difference between the service we've received before and after the initial connection. You can tell the Aussie Broadband team genuinely cares about their customers and goes above and beyond to ensure their connection's working as intended.

LukeDeputy Controller, VICSES

As a not-for-profit organisation, VICSES Nillumbik is part of Aussie Broadband's Community Impact Program.

“Our dedicated community impact officer, Sharon Noonan, has also been very supportive."

With reliable connectivity in their corner, VICSES Nillumbik and the community they serve can rest assured they'll be ready for whatever Mother Nature throws at them.

Mobile Broadband

Back up critical connectivity with mobile data

Ensure business continuity with cost-effective 4G internet that works from anywhere.

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