CX can help local governments respond to disasters

Oracle Corporation Australia Pty Ltd

By Peter Pirnejad
Wednesday, 02 October, 2019

CX can help local governments respond to disasters

The need for local governments to plan for a more resilient and sustainable future has never been so urgent. Devastating fires and global drought issues have taken their toll on water supplies, forcing cities to change water rates and require higher levels of water efficiency. On top of this, heatwaves that struck many countries and regions this past year broke temperature records and wreaked havoc on citizens.

Governments are taking notice as well. According to the US Forest Service, for example, some 40 million homes across the US are at risk of being destroyed by wildfires. And 13 US federal agencies recently released a report that links climate change to these sorts of natural disasters, stating that if significant steps are not taken to rein in climate change, the damage will knock off as much as 10% from the size of the US economy. The situation in Australia is similar.

This year is a pivotal one for many communities across the globe to take preventative measures by modifying their local building codes and regulations for both commercial and residential structures. The International Building Code is revised in three-year cycles, with cities typically making their local amendments in the third year. This international standard has been adopted for use as a base code standard by most jurisdictions to preserve health and safety. Given the length of time it takes to engage a city council, a community and to coordinate with other internal departments, the time is ideal for localities to make these alterations now, so they can take effect in January 2020.

For example, on the bushfire issue, local agencies can make changes to their building, fire, planning, and related codes to help preserve life and property, as well as give first responders more direct access to the origin of the fire. In rural areas, codes can mandate more defensible areas around a structure as well as more fire-resistant roofs and construction techniques. In fire-prone localities, urban planners must consider the elevated risk of fire in the preparation of their safety element component as part of their general plan. Planners can specify that brush and woodland be cleared adjacent to major roads to help residents escape and first responders rush to the scene.

Many cities avoid making these code changes because of the enforcement challenges. Builders and private citizens alike must be able to understand and navigate the code, and city staff must be trained to apply the codes when applications are reviewed. In my public sector experience with numerous community development departments in California, local amendments to the international code system needed to be clear to architects and engineers as well as to our staff who checked and inspected their construction. We often used technology solutions to help developers understand the codes, staff enforce them, and elected officials understand the benefits.

As a recent attendee at two major conferences, the International Code Council and the National League of Cities, I witnessed firsthand how the industry has attempted to respond to the need to make government work better for both the officials who serve and its citizens. Today there exists:

  • Technologies that can help navigate complex policies so residents can get the answers to their questions quickly and easily.
  • Solutions that make codes easier to enforce across the entire planning, design, building and code-enforcement continuum, enabling city officials to focus more on the creation of policies and less about their enforceability.
  • Modern, mobile tools for citizens to engage with their community development departments.

Responding to natural disasters to prevent the loss of life and property demands immediate action. Today, technology tools exist to make the management and enforcement of the entire planning, design, building, and enforcement of buildings easier and more predictable for both citizens and government officials. This enables cities to focus more on the creation of more proactive solutions to not just respond quicker to disasters, but also to prevent and reduce them.

To learn more about how Oracle CX can help in this progression, visit

Peter Pirnejad is the director of community development strategy for Oracle Public Sector.

Image credit: ©

Originally published here.

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